To determine the prevalence and risk factors of elevated blood lead levels in young, urban Nigerian children.
A randomized cluster sample of children aged 6–35 months.
Jos, a community in north central Nigeria.
Blood lead level.
Of 218 children evaluated, 70% of the children had blood lead levels in excess of 10 μg/dL. Mean blood lead levels were 15.2 ± 1.4 μg/dL; median blood lead concentration was 12.0 (range 1– > 60 μg/dL). Mean lead concentrations were higher in those who professed the Islamic faith, used eye cosmetics, lived near a battery smelter, or lived in a certain geographical area. Pica was not associated with increased blood lead concentrations. Forward stepwise regression analysis revealed religion, area of residence, and proximity to a battery smelter as the variables which jointly predicted increased blood lead concentrations.
A majority of the studied children in Jos, Nigeria have lead levels placing them at risk for intellectual impairment. The cause of lead intoxication appears to be multifactoral. Further studies should investigate the causality of these associations prior to the implementation of a primary preventive public health measure.