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June 12, 1996

Bone Lead Levels and Delinquent Behavior

Author Affiliations

Glencoe, Ill

JAMA. 1996;275(22):1725-1726. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530460029020

To the Editor.  —Contrary to the results of the study by Dr Needleman and colleagues,1 after a 3-decade follow-up study of more than 69 of 110 (63%) of my former patients whose blood lead levels were between 4.83 and 22.68 μmol/L (100 and 470 μg/dL), I have yet to encounter the predicted outcome. Eighty percent of this cohort of inner-city black subjects graduated from high school, a third entered college, and 6 have already obtained 1 or 2 degrees. Three of the college graduates had symptoms of incipient encephalopathy before they received chelation therapy.2Needleman et al leave several questions unanswered. Has the x-ray fluorescence (XRF) technique been validated on children with known lead poisoning (ie, lead concentrations in blood of 3.86 μmol/L [80 μg/dL] or more)? Their study lacks a proper control population.We have lead in our red blood cells at the time of birth, and