WASHINGTON — Exposure to lead during childhood or even in the womb may predispose individuals to criminal behavior later in life, a new study reveals. A research team from George Washington University discovered that children who had higher levels of the toxic metal in their bodies were more likely to engage in criminal activities as adults. They found this correlation applicable to children exposed to lead both during their mother’s pregnancy and their first few years of life.
“Children do not absorb or metabolize lead in the same way as adults and are far more susceptible to the negative impacts of lead exposure due to a hyper-permeable blood-brain barrier and rapidly developing organ systems,” says Dr. Maria Jose Talayero Schettino, the lead researcher of the study, in the journal PLOS Global Public Health. “This review demonstrates an association between exposure to lead and the later development of delinquent, antisocial, and criminal behavior.”