The influence of the environmental neurotoxin, lead, on Head Start children's academic outcomes
Schlieber, Marisa Leigh
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Lead is recognized as a significant pediatric health concern. Early exposure is associated with impairments in intellect, cognitive functioning, and behavior. The present study investigates early lead exposure on Head Start children’s academic outcomes from kindergarten to third grade, an area not previously explored in the literature. Academic outcome measures offer an applied setting to understand the neuropsychological effects of lead. Participants were former Head Start recipients selected from a larger national study. The study compared lead exposed children prior to kindergarten to children without lead exposure. The child’s scores on scholastic achievement assessments and teacher ratings of the child were utilized to measure academic outcomes. Results suggest early exposure to lead is associated with reduced academic outcomes. Children with lead exposure had lower scores on scholastic achievement assessments and teacher comparison ratings compared to non-exposed peers.