Lead poisoning exposure early in life increases risk for criminal activity

It is understood that lead poisoning poses great risks and can have life-long effects on children, but recent studies show that children who suffer from lead poisoning may also be more likely to engage in criminal activity as adults.

In a study by the University of Cincinnati, researchers found that, “lead sowed the seeds of their future," said Kim Dietrich, a neuropsychologist who has been following the group of nearly 300 people since they were born in the late 1970s. "It isn't conducive to behavior we associate with normal development, making smart decisions and success."

Featured in the Chicago Tribune, the study noted, “For those who had been exposed to lead as toddlers, even in small amounts, the MRI scans revealed changes that were subtle, permanent and devastating. The toxic metal had robbed them of gray matter in the parts of the brain that enable people to pay attention, regulate emotions and control impulses.”

Last month, a Tribune investigation found lead hazards in the same areas known for having high crime rates in Chicago. The importance of lead testing and prevention is not only beneficial and necessary for the health of the residents living in those areas, but also essential to prevent future crime rates from increasing in the neighborhoods.