Low-level prenatal and postnatal blood lead exposure and adrenocortical responses to acute stress in children

Brooks B Gump, Paul Stewart, Jacki Reihman, Ed Lonky, Tom Darvill, Patrick J. Parsons, Douglas A. Granger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

62 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: A few recent studies have demonstrated heightened hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis reactivity to acute stress in animals exposed to heavy metal contaminants, particularly lead. However, Pb-induced dysregulation of the HPA axis has not yet been studied in humans. Objective: In this study, we examined children's cortisol response to acute stress (the glucocorticoid product of HPA activation) in relation to low-level prenatal and postnatal Pb exposure, Methods: Children's prenatal blood Pb levels were determined from cord blood specimens, and postnatal lead levels were abstracted from pediatrician and state records. Children's adrenocortical responses to an acute stressor were measured using assays of salivary cortisol before and after administration of a standard cold pressor task. Results: Ph exposure was not associated with initial salivary cortisol levels. After an acute stressor, however, increasing prenatal and postnatal blood Pb levels were independently associated with significantly heightened salivary cortisol responses. Conclusions: Our results suggest that relatively low prenatal and postnatal blood lead levels - notably those below the 10 μg/dL blood lead level identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for public health purposes - can alter children's adrenocortical responses to acute stress. The behavioral and health consequences of this Pb-induced HPA dysregulation in children have yet to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-255
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Volume116
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes

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Blood
blood
Hydrocortisone
Disease control
disease control
Public health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.)
Heavy Metals
Fetal Blood
Glucocorticoids
public health
Assays
Animals
Public Health
Chemical activation
exposure
Health
assay
heavy metal
Impurities

Keywords

  • Adrenocortical
  • Children
  • Cortisol
  • HPA axis
  • Lead
  • Metal pollution
  • Pb
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

Low-level prenatal and postnatal blood lead exposure and adrenocortical responses to acute stress in children. / Gump, Brooks B; Stewart, Paul; Reihman, Jacki; Lonky, Ed; Darvill, Tom; Parsons, Patrick J.; Granger, Douglas A.

In: Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 116, No. 2, 02.2008, p. 249-255.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Gump, Brooks B ; Stewart, Paul ; Reihman, Jacki ; Lonky, Ed ; Darvill, Tom ; Parsons, Patrick J. ; Granger, Douglas A. / Low-level prenatal and postnatal blood lead exposure and adrenocortical responses to acute stress in children. In: Environmental Health Perspectives. 2008 ; Vol. 116, No. 2. pp. 249-255.
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