Neurotoxicity and aggressiveness triggered by low-level lead in children: a review

Kelly Polido Kaneshiro Olympio,1 Claudia Gonçalves,2
Wanda Maria Risso Günther,1 and Etelvino José Henriques Bechara 3

Lead-induced neurotoxicity acquired by low-level long-term exposure has special relevance for
children. A plethora of recent reports has demonstrated a direct link between low-level lead exposure
and deficits in the neurobehavioral-cognitive performance manifested from childhood
through adolescence. In many studies, aggressiveness and delinquency have also been suggested
as symptoms of lead poisoning. Several environmental, occupational and domestic
sources of contaminant lead and consequent health risks are largely identified and understood,
but the occurrences of lead poisoning remain numerous. There is an urgent need for public
health policies to prevent lead poisoning so as to reduce individual and societal damages and
losses. In this paper we describe unsuspected sources of contaminant lead, discuss the economic
losses and urban violence possibly associated with lead contamination and review the
molecular basis of lead-induced neurotoxicity, emphasizing its effects on the social behavior,
delinquency and IQ of children and adolescents.
Lead poisoning; neurotoxicity syndromes; oxidative stress; juvenile delinquency


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