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Early Lead Exposure May Raise the Chance of Adult Criminality

Early Lead Exposure

An analysis of 17 previously published studies reveals that lead exposure during pregnancy or youth is linked to a higher chance of engaging in criminal behaviour as an adult, but further research is required to confirm this. In the open-access journal PLOS Global Public Health, Maria Jose Talayero Schettino of the George Washington University in the United States and colleagues describe these findings.

Numerous health problems, including delayed neurodevelopment in children, immune system dysfunction, renal damage, cardiac abnormalities, and reproductive disorders, can be brought on by lead exposure.

Additionally, statistical correlations between lead exposure and criminal behaviour have been found, both at the population-level and at the level of the individual. The results of research conducted at the individual level have varied, nevertheless.

Talayero Schettino and colleagues conducted a systematic assessment of research that address connections between individual lead exposure and crime or other antisocial behaviours in order to further explain the available evidence. They analysed 17 studies that used a range of techniques to measure lead exposure, such as blood, bones, or teeth, and that looked at the consequences of exposure at various periods, such as in the womb or in early childhood, later in childhood, and in adolescent or adulthood.

The evaluation highlighted the studies’ diverse range of findings. For instance, in certain instances, there were no statistical associations between early lead exposure and delinquent conduct. According to one study, exposure is associated with antisocial behaviour but not arrests. Nevertheless, other studies discovered associations between lead exposure in early childhood and later arrests, including those for drug-related offenses. The authors also assessed each study for statistical bias using a method called ROBINS-E, and they discovered that some studies were statistically more robust than others.

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