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Title: Criminal arrests associated with reduced regional brain volumes in an adult population with documented childhood lead exposure.

Authors: Beckwith, Travis J; Dietrich, Kim N; Wright, John P; Altaye, Mekibib; Cecil, Kim M

Published In Environ Res, (2021 Oct)

Abstract: Childhood lead exposure interferes with brain maturation, which adversely impacts cognitive and behavioral development. Lower intelligence scores, impairments in decision making, and increased rates of delinquent and criminal behavior are adverse outcomes linked to childhood lead absorption. The present study examined the relationships between childhood blood lead concentrations, structural brain volume, and measures of adult criminality. We hypothesized that increased rates of criminal arrests in adulthood would be inversely correlated with regional gray and white matter volumes, especially prefrontal areas responsible for decision making and self-control. We obtained childhood blood lead histories and anatomical magnetic resonance imaging from a subset of the longitudinally followed birth cohort known as the Cincinnati Lead Study. Criminality data for cohort participants were extracted from public databases. Voxel based morphometry was used to examine spatial differences in regional gray and white matter volumes associated with childhood blood lead concentrations and measures of adult criminality, respectively. Conjunction analyses allowed for the exploratory evaluation of common regions of volume change. Childhood blood lead concentrations were inversely associated with gray and white matter volume in the frontal, parietal and temporal lobes. Gray matter volumes were also inversely associated with criminal arrests with key regions within the cingulate, precuneus, several frontal gyri and the supplementary motor area. Conjunction analyses identified regions in the anterior cingulate, frontal gray matter and supplementary motor area associated with childhood lead absorption and criminality. The results from this study suggest that reduced brain volumes in regions responsible for cognition and emotional regulation are associated with childhood lead exposure and criminal arrests.

PubMed ID: 34181918 Exiting the NIEHS site

MeSH Terms: Adult; Brain/diagnostic imaging; Child; Criminals*; Databases, Factual; Humans; Lead

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