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Journal of Public Health Management & Practice:
doi: 10.1097/01.PHH.0000338370.59080.4b
Science and Data

Tracking Childhood Exposure to Lead and Developmental Disabilities: Examining the Relationship in a Population‐Based Sample

Kaiser, Marygrace Yale PhD; Kearney, Greg DrPH; Scott, Keith G. PhD; DuClos, Chris MS; Kurlfink, Julie

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Abstract

Elevated levels of lead detected in the blood are associated with harmful effects on children's learning and behavior. The goal of the current Environmental Public Health Tracking Project was to examine the relationship between selected developmental disabilities and childhood blood lead levels in a population-based sample. Using extant datasets from the Florida Department of Health, Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, and the Florida Department of Education, we were able to isolate a linked dataset of children who were tested for lead poisoning and attended public schools. Special education categories served as a proxy for developmental disabilities; the prevalence of these disabilities in the sample of children with blood lead levels was compared with that in children who attended the same schools but were not tested for lead poisoning. Results indicated that children screened for lead poisoning were more likely to be receiving services for behavior problems, mental retardation, learning disabilities, or a speech-language impairment than other children attending the same schools. Implications for using administrative datasets to examine this relationship are discussed.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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