Consequences of lead exposure and iron supplementation on childhood development at age 4 years

G. A. Wasserman, J. H. Graziano, P. Factor-Litvak, D. Popovac, N. Morina, A. Musabegovic, N. Vrenezi, S. Capuni-Paracka, V. Lekic, E. Preteni-Redjepi, S. Hadzialjevic, V. Slavkovich, J. Kline, P. Shrout, Z. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For a prospective study of lead exposure and early development, we recruited pregnant women from a smelter town and a nonlead-exposed town in Yugoslavia and followed them and their children through age 4. For 332 children seen at age 4, mean scores on the McCarthy Scales General Cognitive Index (GCI) in the exposed and nonexposed towns were 81.3 and 86.6, respectively; geometric mean blood lead concentrations (BPb) were 39.9 and 9.6 μg/dl, respectively. Potential confounders included the quality of the HOME environment; maternal age, intelligence, education, and language; birthweight and gender. These showed predictable associations with 4-year intelligence, accounting for 42.7% of the variance in GCI. Following adjustment for these variables and for concurrent Hgb, we found significant independent adverse associations between GCI and BPb's, measured at 6-month intervals since birth. At age 4, BPb accounted for an incremental 3.5% of the variance in GCI, such that the estimated loss in GCI associated with an increase in BPb from 10-25 μg/dl was 3.8 points. The Perceptual-Performance subscale of the McCarthy was most sensitive to Pb exposure, a result consistent with findings from prospective studies in Boston and Port Pirie.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-240
Number of pages8
JournalNeurotoxicology and Teratology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1994


  • Head exposure
  • Iron supplementation
  • McCarthy scales

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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