Behavioral and Environmental Explanations of Elevated Blood Lead Levels in Immigrant Children and Children of Immigrants

Stan A. Kaplowitz*, Harry Perlstadt, James D. Dziura, Lori A. Post

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Immigrant/refugee children sometimes have substantially higher blood lead levels (BLLs) than US-born children in similar environments. We try to understand why, by exploring the relationship between immigration status of mother and the BLLs of US-born children. We compared BLLs of children born in Michigan to immigrant and non-immigrant parents, using the Michigan database of BLL tests for 2002–2005, which includes the child’s race, Medicaid eligibility and address. We added census data on socio-demographic/housing characteristics of the child’s block group, and information about parents. Low parental education, single parent households, mothers’ smoking and drinking, all increase the child’s BLL. However, immigrant parents had fewer characteristics associated with high BLL than US born parents, and their children had lower BLLs than children of US-born mothers. Our findings suggest that prior findings of higher BLLs among immigrant/refugee children probably result from them starting life in high-lead environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)979-986
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immigrant and Minority Health
Volume18
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

Keywords

  • Blood lead level
  • Family structure
  • Health behaviors
  • Immigrants
  • Lead poisoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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