Relationship between blood lead concentration and dietary intakes of infants from 3 to 12 months of age

Lawrence M. Schell, Melinda Denham, Alice D. Stark, Julia Ravenscroft, Patrick Parsons, Elaine Schulte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Data from a study of mother-infant pairs of low socioeconomic status living in Albany County, NY, were analyzed to determine the influence of diet and nutrition on the blood lead level of infants during the first year of life. Children's diets were assessed at 3-month intervals using a 24-h diet recall as reported by the primary caregiver. The potential impact of dietary consumption of protein, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin D, and fat, as well as serum vitamin D and ferritin on blood lead levels at 6 and 12 months of age was examined with multivariable statistical analyses, controlling for other influences on lead levels. Neonates' blood lead levels were low at birth (geometric mean=1.6μg/dL), and none were elevated (≥10μg/dL). By 12 months, the mean blood lead for this sample was 5.1μg/dL, and 18% of the sample had an elevated blood lead level. We observed significant inverse relationships between infants' 6-month lead level and their intake of zinc, iron, and calcium. At 12 months, low iron intake continued to be associated with higher lead levels, although zinc and calcium did not. Protein had a paradoxical effect, being associated with lower lead at 6 months, but higher lead at 12 months. Serum vitamin D and ferritin were not associated with lead levels, nor was vitamin supplement use. The results reported here emphasize the value of key minerals in the diet to reduce lead absorption during early infancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-273
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Aida Aydemir, Annemarie Cardemon; James Crucetti, Marla Egolstein, Myron Gordon, William A. Grattan, Marianne Heigel, Marilyn Schmidt, Jean Waldron, Paul Weinbaum, Mary Ellen White, and staff at the County of Albany Department of Health and at the Albany Medical College. This study was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences grant R01-ES 05280.


  • Anthropometry
  • Children
  • Diet
  • Lead
  • Nutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Environmental Science


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