Deborah Havens

Project title: Childhood Blood Lead Levels and Associated Risk Factors in Vietnam

Degree: MPH | Program: Occupational and Environmental Medicine (OEM) | Project type: Thesis/Dissertation
Completed in: 2012 | Faculty advisor: William E. Daniell


Childhood lead poisoning is one of the most carefully studied and documented environmental exposures worldwide. However, despite increased awareness that lead exposure can compromise health and that lead exposure is completely preventable, lead continues to contribute significantly to the global burden of disease. Even though elevated blood lead levels have been found throughout Southeast Asia, often in association with various environmental lead exposures such as lead battery recycling and electronic waste, there has not been any routine surveillance of blood lead levels in Vietnam. The goal of this study was to assess the prevalence of elevated blood lead levels in the general population of children in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. This was accomplished with the use of the LeadCare II lead testing kit and an accompanying questionnaire in children who were admitted to a pediatric hospital for acute respiratory problems. The 311 children in this study were primarily under 2 years of age (n=232), with a median blood lead level of 3.60 µg/dL (IQI 1.65-6.00). The prevalence of children with elevated blood lead levels >= 10 µg/dL was 7%. In multivariate models, age of the child, province where they lived, attending school outside the home and water source were predictors of elevated blood lead levels. This study confirms that Vietnamese children are currently at risk for lead related disease and may be useful in making public health recommendations and determining the need for additional surveillance. URI