176099 Blood Lead Exposure and Reading Readiness

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pat McLaine, RN, MPH , Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Pulbic Health, Columbia, MD
Jacqueline Agnew, RN, MPH, PhD , Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
As we look towards the elimination of elevated blood lead levels nationally, an extremely important policy question remains: what to do about children already identified with blood lead elevations (and probably lead body burden) and known to us, many of whom are still enrolled in public education systems. Earlier educational research has suggested there is potential for educational interventions to improve cognitive outcomes for children with reading disabilities. Using linked educational and health data sets for a cohort of at-risk kindergarten children with a known history of lead exposure based on public health records of routine blood lead testing, we will report on (1) the association between lead exposure and reading readiness at kindergarten entry; (2) performance of a school-based reading intervention for children with and without significant history of lead exposure; (3) implications for health and educational policy including primary prevention and improved targeting of early educational intervention efforts; and (4) key elements of the local partnership that provided us with the opportunity to utilize existing secondary data sets to characterize these associations.

We have data for more than 4,000 children, an estimated 90% of the kindergarten population attending public school in Providence Rhode Island during a three year period. Average mean blood lead level for the population is 5ug/dL and more than 60% are Hispanic. Reading readiness was assessed using a standardized tool at the beginning and end of kindergarten. We will analyze the data using multiple regression techniques and progressive levels of adjustment.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the relationship between a child's screening blood lead levels and reading readiness at entry to kindergarten. 2. Identify two policy opportunities to improve educational outcomes for children with early childhood lead exposure. 3. Discuss three reasons to consider linking health department and school data.

Keywords: Lead, Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been engaged in public health practice and research in the field of lead poisoning prevention since 1988. This paper will report on some of the findings from my doctoral dissertation work focused on the same topic. I have presented at APHA many times in the past and am an author/co-author of a number of published articles in the peer reviewed literature.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.