Title: Blood lead levels mediate the relationship between social adversity and child externalizing behavior.
Authors: Liu, Jianghong; Portnoy, Jill; Raine, Adrian; Gladieux, Margaret; McGarry, Presley; Chen, Aimin
Published In Environ Res, (2022 Mar)
Abstract: BACKGROUND/AIMS: The association between social adversity and externalizing behavioral problems in children is well-documented. What is much less researched are biological mechanisms that may mediate such relationships. This study examines the hypothesis that low blood lead mediates the relationship between social adversity and child externalizing behavior problems. METHODS: In this cross-sectional study, participants were 131 children aged 11-12 years (mean = 11.90) from Philadelphia, US. A venous fasting blood sample was taken and analyzed for blood lead levels. A social adversity index was calculated based on 10 total indicators derived from a psychosocial interview of the parent and official neighborhood data, while child behavior outcomes (internalizing and externalizing behavior) were assessed using both parent-report and child self-report. RESULTS: The mean blood lead level was 2.20 μg/dL. Both relatively higher blood lead levels and higher social adversity scores were associated with higher levels of parent-reported and child self-reported externalizing behaviors. Additionally, blood lead mediated the relationship between social adversity and child-reported externalizing behavior (Indirect effect: B = 0.03, 95% CI: 0.004, 0.09) and partially mediated the relationship between social adversity and parent-reported externalizing behavior (Indirect Effect: B = 0.03, 95% CI: 0.01, 0.07). CONCLUSION: To our knowledge, this study is the first to suggest that blood lead levels play a mediating role in the relationship between externalizing behavior problems and social adversity. Findings have potentially important implications for public health and environmental regulation as well as understanding biological mechanisms that link social inequality with health outcomes, especially in youth from low-income, urban areas.
PubMed ID: 34801542
MeSH Terms: No MeSH terms associated with this publication