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June 12, 1996

Bone Lead Levels and Delinquent Behavior

Author Affiliations

University of Rochester Rochester, NY

JAMA. 1996;275(22):1726. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530460029021

To the Editor.  —The recent publication by Dr Needleman and colleagues1 linking delinquent behavior to bone lead content causes me great concern. I have had an interest in the lead exposure of children for many years, including demonstrating that lead in dust is a potent contributor to the low levels of lead found in children.2 As a pediatric primary practitioner in an inner city, I've followed many children with lead exposure. Many have done well and are now in college or working productively, raising families of their own. In these same settings, we see many disrupted families whose children are aggressive and delinquent although the children's lead levels were never high.Violence and youthful aggression in our time has exploded in the last decade, reaching frightening proportions. Coincident with this worsening of behavior there has been a remarkable drop in blood lead levels. Delinquent behavior has many important