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Understanding and Preventing Violence: Volume 2, Biobehavioral Influences
LEAD TOXICITY AND ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOR
It has recently been found that lead poisoning during childhood can have long-term detrimental effects on behavior (Needleman, 1989, 1990). Exposure to lead, which most frequently occurs when young children consume lead-based paints, has been associated with ADHD. As previously mentioned, ADHD is a well-established risk factor for later antisocial behavior. The rate of later delinquency in children who display ADHD and conduct disorder has been estimated to be 0.58. The attributable risk for hyperactivity in children with elevated levels of lead is 0.55. Multiplying the lower 95 percent confidence limits for these two proportions produces a joint probability of .2 for delinquency, given excess exposure to lead. The relation between lead exposure and delinquency has not yet been systematically studied, but clues suggest that this relationship should be given serious consideration (Needleman, 1989).
The study of the relationship between diet and behavior is still in its infancy. Within this growing field, a number of hypotheses have been developed about the role of dietary variables in determining violent behavior. Although experimental studies have been initiated to test these hypotheses, it is too early to draw definitive conclusions from this research. Better-controlled experiments employing appropriate research methodology are required. Additionally, it is important to remember that diet is but one of the many factors that could contribute to violent behavior. Research conducted thus far suggests that it may make a relatively minor contribution.
American Psychiatric Association 1987 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,Third Edition—Revised. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.
Anderson, G.H., and N. Hrboticky 1986 Approaches to assessing the dietary component of the diet behavior connection. Nutrition Reviews 44(suppl.):42-51.
Behar, D., J.L. Rapoport, A.A. Adams, C.J. Berg, and M. Cornblath 1984 Sugar challenge testing with children considered behaviorally "sugar reactive." Nutrition and Behavior 1:277–288.