Lead poisoning among Burmese refugee children--Indiana, 2009

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2011 Jul;50(7):648-56. doi: 10.1177/0009922811398958. Epub 2011 Mar 11.


Recent routine screening revealed multiple cases of unexplained lead poisoning among children of Burmese refugees living in Fort Wayne, Indiana. A cross-sectional study was conducted to determine (a) the prevalence of elevated blood lead levels (BLLs) among Burmese children and (b) potential sources of lead exposure. A case was defined as an elevated venous BLL (≥10 µg/dL); prevalence was compared with all Indiana children screened during 2008. Environmental and product samples were tested for lead. In all, 14 of 197 (7.1%) children had elevated BLLs (prevalence ratio: 10.7) that ranged from 10.2 to 29.0 µg/dL. Six cases were newly identified; 4 were among US-born children. Laboratory testing identified a traditional ethnic digestive remedy, Daw Tway, containing a median 520 ppm lead. A multilevel linear regression model identified daily use of thanakha, an ethnic cosmetic, and Daw Tway use were related to elevated BLLs (P < .05). Routine monitoring of BLLs among this population should remain a priority.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Indiana / epidemiology
  • Infant
  • Lead Poisoning, Nervous System, Childhood / blood
  • Lead Poisoning, Nervous System, Childhood / diagnosis
  • Lead Poisoning, Nervous System, Childhood / epidemiology*
  • Lead Poisoning, Nervous System, Childhood / etiology
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Medicine, East Asian Traditional / adverse effects*
  • Myanmar / ethnology
  • Prevalence
  • Refugees*
  • Risk Factors


  • Gastrointestinal Agents