Effects of low levels of cadmium and lead on cognitive functioning in children

Arch Environ Health. 1982 May-Jun;37(3):159-66. doi: 10.1080/00039896.1982.10667557.


Hair cadmium and lead content were related to intelligence tests, motor impairment assessments, and school achievement scores from 149 children aged 5 to 16 yr enrolled in rural Maryland public school systems. Hair cadmium and lead were significantly correlated with both intelligence scores and school achievement scores, but not motor impairment scores. Significant relations with I.Q. were obtained after regressing out demographic factors and were observed, even in children within a normal I.Q. range. Evidence of different effects of cadmium and lead on cognitive development was obtained. Hierarchical regression analyses suggest that cadmium has a significantly stronger effect on verbal I.Q. than does lead and that lead has a stronger effect on performance I.Q. than does cadmium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cadmium / analysis
  • Cadmium / pharmacology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Hair / analysis
  • Humans
  • Intelligence / drug effects*
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Lead / analysis
  • Lead / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Maryland
  • Regression Analysis
  • Socioeconomic Factors


  • Cadmium
  • Lead