Childhood lead poisoning in Massachusetts communities: its association with sociodemographic and housing characteristics

Am J Public Health. 1995 Apr;85(4):528-34. doi: 10.2105/ajph.85.4.528.


Objectives: The purpose of the study was to examine the relationship between communities' sociodemographic and housing characteristics and incidence of lead poisoning.

Methods: This was a population-based correlational study of 238,275 Massachusetts children from birth through 4 years of age who were screened for lead poisoning in 1991-1992. A logistic regression model was developed with the community as the unit of analysis, the case identification rate for lead poisoning (newly identified children with venous blood lead > or = 25 micrograms/dL per 1000 children) as the dependent variable, and US census variables as independent variables.

Results: A significant independent relationship with the community case identification rate of lead poisoning was found for seven variables: median per capita income, percentage of housing built before 1950, percentage of the population who were Black, percentage of children screened, and a "poverty index." Rates of iron deficiency and percentage of Hispanics were not associated with the case identification rate of lead poisoning.

Conclusions: Massachusetts communities' incidence of lead poisoning is correlated with sociodemographic and housing characteristics. In states similar to Massachusetts and without screening data, this model may help target screening programs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lead Poisoning / epidemiology*
  • Lead Poisoning / ethnology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Poverty
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors