[Evaluation of the risk of neuropsychological damage from lead exposure in childhood].Ann Ist Super Sanita. 1998; 34(1):97-104.AI
Potential neurotoxicity of lead in children has been explored in many recent epidemiological studies carried out all over the world. Within a multicentric European study, an investigation was carried out also in Italy on children living in an industrial area and characterised by a non steady-state exposure condition with higher exposure at the early stages of life. This peculiar feature allowed to observe interesting associations between neurobehavioural functions and the levels of Pb measured in teeth, but not in blood. Indeed, Pb in teeth was associated with the results of psychometric tests which evaluate the discriminant ability and the attention. Other associations, like those found between the intelligence quotient (IQ) scores and Pb in teeth disappeared after correction for the socioeconomical status of parents. In general, in children exposed to environmental Pb, more consistent associations were found with visual-motor integration and attention than with IQ measurements. In agreement with literature data from other countries, we suggest that the relevance of neurotoxic effects of Pb is limited, at least at the current exposure levels, but also that a threshold Pb level associated with no effect cannot be identified.