UC and Cincinnati Children's researchers
examined the effect of "chelation" therapy with the drug succimer, a
standard technique for "washing" the blood, on the neurophysiological
and behavioral development of school-age children exposed to lead.
"We hoped to demonstrate that the effects
of early exposure to lead could be minimized or eliminated by
administration of this drug," says Kim Dietrich, PhD, a professor in
the Department of Environmental Health. "Instead, the study showed that
neurological damage from lead poisoning is irreversible."
Reported in the July 1 issue of the
journal Pediatrics, the study, "emphasizes that lead poisoning must be
prevented in the first place," Dr. Dietrich says. "Instead of reacting
to journalistic hyperbole about historic skeet-shooting range sites
that have been paved over by new suburbs, we need to make sure that
children in our inner cities, living in older homes that cause actual
lead poisoning, are adequately protected.
"We shouldn't be using children as guinea
pigs," says Dr. Dietrich. "We should double our efforts to inspect and
clean up target areas in the interiors of our cities, where we have
found documented cases of lead-poisoned children. If we wait until the
children's blood shows high levels of lead, the damage is already done."