MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Madhav P. Bhatta, PhD, MPH
Associate Professor, Epidemiology & Global Health
College of Public Health
Kent State University
Kent, OH 44242
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Lead exposure, especially in children, in any amount is harmful. Lead poisoning is a growing global environmental health problem with increasing lead-related diseases, disabilities, and deaths. While exposure to lead in US children, in general, has significantly declined in the last three to four decades certain sub-groups of US children such as African Americans, immigrants and resettled refugees, and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are still vulnerable to environmental lead exposure.
Previous studies among resettled refugee children in the United States had found 4- to 5-times higher prevalence of elevated blood lead level (EBLL) when compared to US-born children. However, most of the studies were conducted when EBLL was defined as blood lead level ≥ 10 µg/dL. In 2012, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed the reference value for EBLL to ≥ 5 µg/dL. Moreover, because the countries of origin for US resettled refugees change over time, it is important to have epidemiologic studies that provide the current information on EBLL among these vulnerable new US immigrant children.
Using blood lead level data from the post-resettlement medical screening, our study examined the prevalence of elevated blood lead level at the time of resettlement among former refugee children who were settled in the state of Ohio from 2009-2016. We had a large and diverse sample (5,661 children from 46 countries of origin) of children for the study, which allowed us to assess EBLL in children from several countries of origin that had not been previously studied. Continue reading