The association of dental caries with blood lead in children when adjusted for IQ and neurobehavioral performance

Michael D. Martin*, Tonya Benton, Mario Bernardo, James S. Woods, Brenda D. Townes, Henrique Luis, Jorge Leitão, Gail Rosenbaum, Alexandre Castro-Caldas, Isabel Pavão, Tessa Rue, Timothy A. DeRouen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract: Associations between childhood lead exposures and dental caries in children have been reported for over 30 years, with widely varying findings and conclusions, and using measures of lead exposure which ranged from food sources and water to tooth, hair or blood lead concentrations. Objectives: This study examined the relationship of lead exposure and dental caries in a population of normatively healthy children. Methods: This cross-sectional study used a population of 507 children aged 8-12 who were participating in a clinical trial of dental materials to examine the relationship between lead and caries. Blood lead concentrations and dental caries were examined for association in both primary and permanent teeth. Because it is possible that neurobehavioral status could be associated with both lead exposure and dental caries prevalence, we also examined neurobehavioral status of the subjects. Results: A gender-specific association (males only) between lead exposure and dental caries was found in primary teeth only. Neurobehavioral measures and IQ were not associated with caries status in this population. Conclusions: This study did not support neurobehavioral status as mediating any association between lead exposure and caries in a normatively healthy population. A gender-specific association between lead and caries not previously reported was found in primary teeth, and no biological explanation for this has been suggested. We conclude that this study provides only weak evidence, if any, for an association of low-level lead exposure with dental caries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-164
Number of pages6
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Children
  • Dental caries
  • IQ
  • Lead
  • Neurobehavioral


Dive into the research topics of 'The association of dental caries with blood lead in children when adjusted for IQ and neurobehavioral performance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this