Lead Exposure and Stunting in Young Children in Delhi and Mumbai, India

Kiersten Johnson, ORC Macro
Jasbir K. Sangha, ORC Macro

Lead is a toxic, naturally-occurring metal that has become widespread in the environment, especially given its many industrial uses. The adverse effects of exposure to lead have long been known. However, studies documenting the association between asymptomatic lead poisoning and short stature have been outnumbered by analyzes of lead’s effects on neurological development and function. The 1998-99 National Family Health Survey (NFHS-2) in India incorporated the collection of blood lead, hemoglobin, and anthropometric measures into a survey instrument that also collects an extensive array of social, behavioral and demographic data. Using this unique cross-sectional dataset, which provides information on blood lead levels for a representative sample of young children living in Mumbai and Delhi, this study finds a negative association between blood lead levels and child growth. Preliminary analyzes indicate that this association remains after controlling for such confounding factors as age, hemoglobin levels, and household wealth.

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Presented in Session 147: Population, Health, and Environment