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The Effect of Prenatal Lead Exposure on Child’s Body Mass Index (BMI) from Birth to 5 Years of Age

Afeiche, Myriam*; Hu, Howard*†; Sánchez, Brisa N.; Lamadrid-Figueroa, Héctor§; Mercado-García, Adriana; Cantonwine, David*; Peterson, Karen E.*; Ettinger, Adrienne S.†**; Wright, Robert O.†**; Hernández-Avila, Mauricio††; Téllez-Rojo, Martha Maria§

doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000362650.15749.69
Abstracts: ISEE 21st Annual Conference, Dublin, Ireland, August 25–29, 2009: Symposium Abstracts

*Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, United States; †Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, United States; ‡Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, United States; §Division of Program Evaluation and Biostatistics, Center for Evaluation Research and Surveys, National Institute of Public Health, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico; ¶Division of Environmental Health, Center for Population Health Research, National Institute of Public Health, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico; **Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States; and ††Ministry of Health, Distrito Federal, México, Mexico.


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Background and Objective:

Perinatal lead exposure has been related to early childhood deficits in stature but inconsistently with weight delays. Mixed findings could reflect different mechanisms affecting growth in child stature and body habitus. Two epidemiologic studies have suggested that lead may be associated with higher body mass index (BMI) in infants and children, but study designs limited inferences about timing of exposure. Taking advantage of a birth cohort in Mexico City, we are studying the impact of pre- and post-natal lead exposure on child BMI.

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Maternal patella and tibia lead (a proxy for prenatal lead exposure) were measured within 1-month postpartum using in vivo K-x ray fluorescence. Socio-demographic and anthropometry data were obtained by trained interviewers at birth, 1, 3, 7 months postpartum and every 6 months thereafter until child age of 5 years. Time since birth was modeled using splines to capture the non linear BMI trajectories between birth and 5 years. Patella lead was categorized into high and low using the median as the cutoff (9.170 μg Pb/g). Another set of models were then fit solely between 2 and 5 years.

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Mean patella lead was 10.45 μg Pb/g (SD = 12.8). Mean blood lead among 724 children during the 5-year period was 3.9 μg Pb/g (SD = 3.62). After 2 years old, children with lower levels of patella lead had a greater rate of increase in BMI over time than those with higher levels (though these results were only statistically significant for girls; β = 0.149 kg/m2-year, SE = 0.056, P = 0.008. For boys: β = 0.035 kg/m2-year, SE = 0.048, P = 0.466.).

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Our results do not support a clear effect of lead on body habitus in early childhood. Additional follow-up is required to see if early life exposure may result in body habitus changes that are not manifest until past 5 years of age.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.