Impaired neuropsychological functioning in lead-exposed children.Dev Neuropsychol. 2004; 26(1):513-40.DN
Neuropsychological functions were assessed in 174 children participating in a longitudinal study of low-level lead exposure. At age 5 1/2 years, children were administered the Working Memory and Planning Battery of the Cambridge Neuropsychological Testing Automated Battery. Measures of sociodemographic characteristics of the family, prenatal and perinatal risk, quality of caregiving and crowding in the home, and maternal and child intelligence were used as covariates to test the hypothesis that children with higher lifetime average blood lead concentrations would perform more poorly on tests of working memory, attentional flexibility, and planning and problem solving. The lifetime average blood lead level in this sample was 7.2 micrograms per deciliter (mug/dL; range: 0-20 mug/dL). Children with greater exposure performed more poorly on tests of executive processes. In both bivariate and multivariate analyses, children with higher lifetime average blood lead concentrations showed impaired performance on the tests of spatial working memory, spatial memory span, intradimensional and extradimensional shifts, and an analog of the Tower of London task. Many of the significant associations remained after controlling for children's intelligence test scores, in addition to the other covariates. These findings indicate that the effects of pediatric lead exposure are not restricted to global indexes of general intellectual functioning, and executive processes may be at particular risk of lead-induced neurotoxicity.