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Lead Levels Related to Delinquency, Study Finds

Boys with high levels of lead in their bones are more likely than those who have low lead levels to exhibit antisocial and delinquent behavior, and it gets worse as they get older, researchers have found.

The study, by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, looked at 301 Pittsburgh boys, from age 7 to age 11, for four years.

By the time the boys were 11, parents and teachers of those with high lead levels in their bones independently reported more delinquent and aggressive behavior, attention problems, and anxiety and depression, compared with the boys without such levels.

The study appeared in the Feb. 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. A previous study of girls and boys found that only in boys was lead poisoning the most significant predictor of disciplinary problems.

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