Boys, not girls, are negatively affected on cognitive tasks by lead exposure: a pilot study

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The study described in this article provides behavioral evidence that boys experience the deleterious cognitive effects of lead more than girls do. In fact, girls with elevated blood lead levels (BLLs - 10 μg/dL) performed as well as girls without elevated BLLs on behavioral measures of cognition. This was shown by testing executive function and reading readiness skills of 40 young children (aged three to six years; 23 with elevated blood lead levels, 17 without) residing within a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-designated lead Superfund site. The results also indicate that elevated BLLs are related to a more pronounced negative impact on executive function than on reading readiness. These findings support recent research on adults indicating that lead exposure is related to atrophy within the prefrontal cortex and other work suggesting that estrogen and estradiol may act as neuroprotectants against the negative impact of neurotoxins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-77
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of environmental health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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