Lead levels down in U.S. kids, but asthma cases rising

January 25, 2013
Lead levels down in U.S. kids, but asthma cases rising: EPA
Report looks at the environment's effect on children's health.

(HealthDay)—Lead levels in young children in the United States have declined dramatically in recent decades, according to government figures released Friday. But the new report on the environment and children's health also found a rise in asthma among kids.

"This latest report provides important information for protecting America's most vulnerable—our children. It shows good progress on some issues, such as reducing children's blood lead levels and exposure to tobacco smoke in the home, and points to the need for continued focus on other issues," administrator Lisa Jackson said in a news release.

The average blood concentration of lead measured in children aged 1 to 5 years was 92 percent lower in 2009-2010 than in 1976-1980, according to the EPA. Most of that decline occurred in the 1980s, but consistent decreases have continued since 1999.

In more good news, the average level of cotinine—which indicates exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke—in the blood of nonsmoking children aged 3 to 17 was 88 percent lower in 2009-2010 than in 1988-1991. In 2010, 6 percent of children from newborn to age 6 years lived in homes with a regular smoker, compared with 27 percent in 1994.

The percentage of children living in counties where concentrations exceeded one or more national air quality standards declined from 75 percent in 1999 to 59 percent in 2009, according to the report.

However, the asthma rate among children rose from 8.7 percent in 2001 to 9.4 percent in 2010, the report said, with particularly affected by the respiratory disease.

While the actual causes of asthma are unclear, substantial evidence suggests that exposure to certain air pollutants can trigger symptoms in children who have asthma. And although the rate has increased, the severity of children's asthma and has declined, according to the report.

for asthma fell from 114 visits per 10,000 children in 1996 to 103 visits per 10,000 children in 2008, the investigators found. From 1996 to 2008, hospitalizations for asthma and for all other respiratory causes dropped from 90 to 56 per 10,000 children.

The report also noted that rates of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and preterm births have risen, but there is no conclusive information on the role that environmental contaminants might play in those conditions.

"Although we are encouraged by these findings, there is still much work to be done," Jackson said. "By monitoring trends, identifying successes and shedding light on areas that need further evaluation, we can continue to improve the health of our children and all Americans."

Explore further: Annual report on U.S. kids' health a mixed bag

More information: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency outlines what you can do to protect children from environmental risks.

Related Stories

Annual report on U.S. kids' health a mixed bag

July 13, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Infant mortality, preterm births and teen births have dropped across the United States as have violent crime and victimization among children, U.S. health officials reported Friday.

Recommended for you

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.