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Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 979–986 | Cite as

Behavioral and Environmental Explanations of Elevated Blood Lead Levels in Immigrant Children and Children of Immigrants

  • Stan A. KaplowitzEmail author
  • Harry Perlstadt
  • James D. Dziura
  • Lori A. Post
Original Paper

Abstract

Immigrant/refugee children sometimes have substantially higher blood lead levels (BLLs) than US-born children in similar environments. We try to understand why, by exploring the relationship between immigration status of mother and the BLLs of US-born children. We compared BLLs of children born in Michigan to immigrant and non-immigrant parents, using the Michigan database of BLL tests for 2002–2005, which includes the child’s race, Medicaid eligibility and address. We added census data on socio-demographic/housing characteristics of the child’s block group, and information about parents. Low parental education, single parent households, mothers’ smoking and drinking, all increase the child’s BLL. However, immigrant parents had fewer characteristics associated with high BLL than US born parents, and their children had lower BLLs than children of US-born mothers. Our findings suggest that prior findings of higher BLLs among immigrant/refugee children probably result from them starting life in high-lead environments.

Keywords

Lead poisoning Blood lead level Immigrants Health behaviors Family structure 

Abbreviations

BLL

Blood lead level

EBLL

Elevated blood lead level

μg

Microgram

CI

Confidence interval

Coeff.

Coefficient

dL

Deciliter

HLM

Hierarchical linear modeling

Ln

Logarithm to base e

MDCH

Michigan Department of Community Health

SD

Standard deviation

SE

Standard error

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Robert L. Scott for providing us with the Michigan Department of Community Health data base of BLL tests and providing the census block group for each address, Dr. Warren Brown for providing census 2000 data about each block group, Glenn Copeland for arranging the merging of the Registry of Live Births with the other MDCH data, Richard Miles for assisting with data processing and Dr. Steven J. Gold for valuable advice about the literature on immigrants.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stan A. Kaplowitz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Harry Perlstadt
    • 1
  • James D. Dziura
    • 2
  • Lori A. Post
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of SociologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Department of Emergency MedicineYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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