Peripubertal blood lead levels and growth among Russian boys

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology

Publication Date


Document Type



Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism | Environmental Public Health | Medical Toxicology | Pediatrics | Physiological Processes


BACKGROUND: Childhood blood lead levels (BLL) have been associated with growth impairment.

OBJECTIVES: We assessed associations of peripubertal BLL with adolescent growth and near adult height in a longitudinal cohort of Russian boys.

METHODS: 481 boys were enrolled at ages 8-9years and followed annually to age 18. At enrollment, BLL was measured, and height, weight, and pubertal staging were obtained annually during 10years of follow-up. Mixed effects models were used to assess the associations of BLL with longitudinal age-adjusted World Health OrganizationZ-scores for height (HT-Z) and body mass index (BMI-Z), and annual height velocity (HV). Interactions between boys' age and BLL on growth outcomes were evaluated.

RESULTS: The median (range) BLL was 3.0 (0.5-31.0) mug/dL. At age 18years, 79% of boys had achieved near adult height (HV < 1.0cm/year), and means (SD) for HT-Z and BMI-Z were 0.15 (0.92) and -0.32 (1.24). Over 10years of follow-up, after covariate adjustment, boys with higher ( > /=5mug/dL) BLL compared with lower BLL were shorter (adjusted mean difference in HT-Z=-0.43, 95% CI -0.60, -0.25, p-value < 0.001), translating to a 2.5cm lower height at age 18years. The decrement in height for boys with higher BLL was most pronounced at 12 to 15years of age (interaction p=0.03). Boys with higher BLL were leaner (adjusted mean difference in BMI-Z=-0.22, 95% CI: -0.45, 0.01, p=0.06).

CONCLUSIONS: Higher peripubertal BLLs were associated with shorter height through age 18years, suggesting a persistent effect of lead on linear growth.


Body mass index, Childhood growth, Children, Height, Lead, Metals

DOI of Published Version



Environ Int. 2017 Sep;106:53-59. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2017.05.023. Epub 2017 Jun 7. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Environment international

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Link to Article in PubMed

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