CINCINNATI -- Researchers with the University of Cincinnati say a new study suggests children who are exposed to lead are more likely to commit violent crimes as adults.
Eighteen-month-old Nyasa, for example, chewed on a windowsill covered with lead paint when she was 9 months old. Her mother says that's when the child exhibited some behavior changes.
"She's real aggressive, but I talk to her about being mean and hitting and grabbing so I'm working on it," Green says. "We got immunization shots, did blood tests and she had lead level of 15."
Experts say that lead level is seven times higher than normal. According to the study, young children with high levels of lead in their blood are 30 percent more likely to be arrested for violent crimes when they get older.
Experts say they spent 30 years monitoring people in the study who'd been exposed to lead as children. They say the research shows a clear connection between childhood exposure to lead and adult criminal activity.
"It's a warning in terms of the future. Early exposure to lead, perhaps other chemicals, carry long-term affects and have grave consequences for individuals and society as a whole," says Dr. Kim Dietrich, who also says children who live in older homes are most at risk.
Dietrich says parents should regularly wash their kids' hands and clean their homes with high phosphate detergents.