2016-01-07 / Business

Elevated blood lead levels associated with Flint drinking water crisis in published report


Research conducted by Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, analyzed differences in pediatric elevated blood lead level incidence before and after Flint introduced a more corrosive water source. Research conducted by Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, analyzed differences in pediatric elevated blood lead level incidence before and after Flint introduced a more corrosive water source. FLINT — The latest research has been published by the American Journal of Public Health citing elevated blood lead levels in children associated with the Flint drinking water crisis.

The research was conducted by Mona Hanna-Attisha MD MPH FAAP, Director, Pediatric Residency Program at Hurley Children’s Hospital and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Jenny LaChance, MS, Hurley Research Center, Richard Sadler PhD, MSU College of Human Medicine Division of Public Health and Allison Champney Schnepp, MD, Pediatric Resident at Hurley Children’s Hospital/Michigan State University.

The research further analyzed differences in pediatric elevated blood lead level incidence before and after Flint introduced a more corrosive water source into an aging water system without adequate corrosion control.

Led by Dr. Hanna-Attisha, researchers, using geospatial technology, analyzed the blood lead levels of more than 1,400 Flint children less than 5 years of age from two time periods — between January and September 2013 when the city used Lake Huron water from Detroit, and from January through September 2015 when the city used Flint River water.

The percentage of children with elevated blood levels significantly increased after the water source change. Results showed the incidence of elevated blood lead levels increased from 2.4 percent to 4.9 percent after water source change and city areas with the highest water lead levels experienced a 6.6 percent increase. No significant change was seen outside the city of Flint. Most striking, one area within Flint more than tripled the percentage of children with elevated blood lead levels, increasing from 4.9 percent to 15.7 percent.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no safe blood lead level in children.

“Overexposure to lead in children can have permanent long-term consequences, including lowered IQ, developmental delays and behavioral problems,” said Dr. Mona Hanna- Attisha. Her investigative team will continue to research and monitor the impact of this exposure; however, she said, “We have a unique opportunity to build a model public health program to mitigate the impact of this population-wide exposure. Through evidence-based interventions such as access to medical care, healthy nutrition, early education, mental health services, maternal-infant support services and much more, we have the promising potential to buffer the impact of this exposure.”

Hurley Children’s Hospital and Michigan State University Extension have released a new nutrition booklet highlighting healthful, cost-effective meals that help lessen the harmful effects of lead. Download this guide at: http://www.hurleymc.com/wellness/ lead-resources/. G.G.

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