TY - JOUR

T1 - Blood lead levels and math learning in first year of school

T2 - An association for concern

AU - Agudelo, Natalia

AU - Cuadro, Ariel

AU - Barg, Gabriel

AU - Queirolo, Elena I.

AU - Mañay, Nelly

AU - Kordas, Katarzyna

N1 - Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Elsevier Inc.

PY - 2024/4/1

Y1 - 2024/4/1

N2 - Lead is a well-known neurotoxicant that continues to affect children's cognition and behavior. With the aim to examine the associations of lead exposure with math performance in children at the beginning of formal schooling, we conducted a cross-sectional study of first-grade students from 11 schools in Montevideo, Uruguay. Math abilities were assessed with tests from the Batería III Woodcock-Muñoz (Calculation, Math Facts Fluency, Applied Problems, Math Calculation Skills and Broad Maths). Separate generalized linear models (GLM) tested the association of blood lead level (BLL) and each math ability, adjusting for key covariates including age and sex, maternal education, household assets and Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment Inventory score. In a complete-case of 252 first-grade students (age 67–105 months, 45% girls), mean ± SD blood lead level was 4.0 ± 2.2 μg/dL. Covariate-adjusted logistic models were used to examine the association between childhood BLLs and the odds of low math performance. BLL was negatively associated with scores on the Calculation test (β (95% CI): −0.18 (−0.33, −0.03)), Math Calculation Skills (−1.26 (−2.26, −0.25)), and Broad Maths cluster scores (−0.88 (−1.55, −0.21)). Similarly, performance on the Calculation test, as well as cluster scores for Broad Maths and Math Calculation Skills differed between children with BLLs <5 and ≥ 5 μg/dL (p < 0.01), being lower in children with higher BLLs. Finally, considering the likelihood of low test performance, each 1 μg/dL higher B–Pb was related to 27% higher likelihood for Maths Facts Fluency, 30% for Broad Math and Math Calculation Skills, and 31% for Calculation (p < 0.05). These results suggest that lead exposure is negatively associated with several basic skills that are key to math learning. These findings further suggest that the cognitive deficits related to lead exposure impact student achievement at very early stages of formal education.

AB - Lead is a well-known neurotoxicant that continues to affect children's cognition and behavior. With the aim to examine the associations of lead exposure with math performance in children at the beginning of formal schooling, we conducted a cross-sectional study of first-grade students from 11 schools in Montevideo, Uruguay. Math abilities were assessed with tests from the Batería III Woodcock-Muñoz (Calculation, Math Facts Fluency, Applied Problems, Math Calculation Skills and Broad Maths). Separate generalized linear models (GLM) tested the association of blood lead level (BLL) and each math ability, adjusting for key covariates including age and sex, maternal education, household assets and Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment Inventory score. In a complete-case of 252 first-grade students (age 67–105 months, 45% girls), mean ± SD blood lead level was 4.0 ± 2.2 μg/dL. Covariate-adjusted logistic models were used to examine the association between childhood BLLs and the odds of low math performance. BLL was negatively associated with scores on the Calculation test (β (95% CI): −0.18 (−0.33, −0.03)), Math Calculation Skills (−1.26 (−2.26, −0.25)), and Broad Maths cluster scores (−0.88 (−1.55, −0.21)). Similarly, performance on the Calculation test, as well as cluster scores for Broad Maths and Math Calculation Skills differed between children with BLLs <5 and ≥ 5 μg/dL (p < 0.01), being lower in children with higher BLLs. Finally, considering the likelihood of low test performance, each 1 μg/dL higher B–Pb was related to 27% higher likelihood for Maths Facts Fluency, 30% for Broad Math and Math Calculation Skills, and 31% for Calculation (p < 0.05). These results suggest that lead exposure is negatively associated with several basic skills that are key to math learning. These findings further suggest that the cognitive deficits related to lead exposure impact student achievement at very early stages of formal education.

KW - Children

KW - Cognition

KW - Lead exposure

KW - Learning outcomes

KW - Math abilities

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85183567250&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.envres.2023.118091

DO - 10.1016/j.envres.2023.118091

M3 - Artículo

C2 - 38215927

AN - SCOPUS:85183567250

SN - 0013-9351

VL - 246

JO - Environmental Research

JF - Environmental Research

M1 - 118091

ER -