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The Impact of Early Childhood Lead Exposure on Brain Organization: A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Language Function *

OBJECTIVES. The purpose of this work was to assess the long-term impact of childhood lead exposure on the neurosubstrate of language function and brain organization.

METHODS. Young adults from the Cincinnati Lead Study were recruited to undergo functional magnetic resonance image scanning while performing a verb generation task. These subjects have been followed from birth through early childhood with extensive documentation of lead exposure, neuropsychology, and behavior. Forty-two subjects provided useful imaging data. The locale, strength, and the correlation between brain language activation and childhood blood lead concentration were studied.

RESULTS. After adjusting for potential confounders, the activation in left frontal cortex, adjacent to Broca's area, and left middle temporal gyrus, including Wernicke's area, were found to be significantly associated with diminished activation in subjects with higher mean childhood blood lead levels, whereas the compensatory activation in the right hemisphere homolog of Wernicke's area was enhanced in subjects with higher blood lead levels.

CONCLUSION. This study indicates that childhood lead exposure has a significant and persistent impact on brain reorganization associated with language function.

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As with any procedure, there could be pain or other substantial risks involved. These concerns should be discussed with your health care provider prior to any treatment so that you have proper informed consent and understand that there are no guarantees to healing.

THE INFORMATION IN THIS WEBSITE IS OFFERED FOR GENERAL EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT IMPLY OR GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE. No Doctor/Patient relationship shall be deemed to have arisen simply by reading the information contained on these pages, and you should consult with your personal physician/care giver regarding your medical treatment before undergoing any sort of treatment or therapy.

Published on 01-28-2010
Authors: Weihong Yuan, PhDa, Scott K. Holland, PhDa, Kim M. Cecil, PhDa, Kim N. Dietrich, PhDb, Stephanie D. Wessel, MS, Mekibib Altaye, PhDd,Richard W. Hornung, DrPHb, M. Douglas Ris, PhDb, John C. Egelhoff, DO, Bruce P. Lanphear, MD, MPHb
Source: PEDIATRICS Vol. 118 No. 3 September 2006, pp. 971-977