Lead is a known neurotoxic metal, and child externalizing behavior (aggression, ADHD, and oppositional disorder) has been identified as a risk factor for adolescent delinquency and later adult violence. There is preliminary evidence that even at sub- clinical lead exposure levels, children experence negative cognitive and behavioral outcomes. However, it is still unclear whether such effects are sustained or how the pathogenesis of the effect of sub-clinical lead exposure is shaped. Based on the evidence from our preliminary analyses in a longitudinal cohort study, we propose to study the mediating mechanisms by which exposure to lead during the preschool years contribute to externalizing behavior in early adolescence. Lead exposure is hypothesized to give rise to two related symptoms, cognitive impairment (low IQ, reduced P300 event- related potentials, poor school performance) and emotion dysregulation (low vagal tone, low arousal, and low stress reactivity) which in turn form the mechanistic pathway to childhood externalizing behavior. This new R01 builds on the PI's current NIEHS-funded K award and unique data from an on-going large prospective cohort study. The initial epidemiological sample consisted of 1,650 3-5 year-old Chinese boys and girls whose blood lead levels were obtained in 2004, and their IQ test scores and behavioral measures were assessed at age 6 years. We propose to add new neurocognitive and emotion measures in addition to repeating measures of blood lead, IQ, behavior, school performance, and psychosocial risk factors during preadolescent years (estimate N =1,200). Structural equation modeling will be used to test the main effect, interactive and mediating effects of early lead exposure on later externalizing behavior. The interdisciplinary research team has decades of experience in studying lead exposure, child behavior problems, psychophysiology, and child mental health. Findings have potential theoretical and clinical implications for understanding the symptoms of neurocognitive and emotional effects of lead exposure on children's externalizing behavior. By integrating neuroscience assessment tools with epidemiology and toxicology, this study could potentially inform strategies for lowing current CDC-defined safe lead levels, and reduce the likelihood of neurocognitive deficits and behavior problems. Ultimately it will potentially minimize the impact of negative environmental exposures on children's mental health, thus improving their subsequent well-being over the life-course.

Public Health Relevance

Understanding the neurobiological basis of lead exposure on children's externalizing behavior will be significant to future attempts to tackle two important global public health issues: lead exposure and children externalizing behavior, ultimately helping to improve the quality life of the individual and the family unit.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
3R01ES018858-05S1
Application #
8848165
Study Section
Child Psychopathology and Developmental Disabilities Study Section (CPDD)
Program Officer
Gray, Kimberly A
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
5
Fiscal Year
2014
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Name
University of Pennsylvania
Department
Other Health Professions
Type
Schools of Nursing
DUNS #
City
Philadelphia
State
PA
Country
United States
Zip Code
19104
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Cui, Naixue; Liu, Jianghong (2016) Cognitive and behavioral risk factors for child physical abuse among Chinese children: a multiple-informant study. Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health 10:36
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Cui, Naixue; Xue, Jia; Connolly, Cynthia A et al. (2016) Does the gender of parent or child matter in child maltreatment in China? Child Abuse Negl 54:1-9
Liu, Jianghong; Lynn, Richard (2015) Chinese sex differences in intelligence: Some new evidence. Pers Individ Dif 75:90-93
Liu, Jianghong; Liu, Xianchen; Pak, Victoria et al. (2015) Early Blood Lead Levels and Sleep Disturbance in Preadolescence. Sleep 38:1869-74
Liu, Jianghong; Cao, Siyuan; Chen, Zehang et al. (2015) Cohort Profile Update: The China Jintan Child Cohort Study. Int J Epidemiol 44:1548-1548l
Liu, Jianghong; Zhao, Sophie R; Reyes, Teresa (2015) Neurological and Epigenetic Implications of Nutritional Deficiencies on Psychopathology: Conceptualization and Review of Evidence. Int J Mol Sci 16:18129-48

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