Childhood lead exposure and sexually transmitted infections: New evidence

Erik J. Nelson, Enbal Shacham, Brian B. Boutwell, Richard Rosenfeld, Mario Schootman, Michael Vaughn, Roger Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: The adverse health effects of lead exposure in children are well documented and include intellectual and behavioral maladies. Childhood lead exposure has also been linked to impulsive behaviors, which, in turn, are associated with a host of negative health outcomes including an increased risk for sexually transmitted infections (STI). The purpose of this study was to assess the association of lead exposure with STI rates across census tracts in St. Louis City, Missouri. Methods: Incident cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia (GC) during 2011 were identified from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and aggregated by census tract. We also geocoded the home address of 59,645 children >72 months in age who had blood lead level tests performed in St. Louis City from 1996 to 2007. Traditional regression and Bayesian spatial models were used to determine the relationship between GC and lead exposure while accounting for confounders (condom and alcohol availability, crime, and an index of concentrated disadvantage). Results: Incident GC rates were found to cluster across census tracts (Moran's I=0.13, p=0.006). After accounting for confounders and their spatial dependence, a linear relationship existed between lead exposure and GC incidence across census tracts, with higher GC rates occurring in the northern part of St. Louis City. Conclusions: At the census-tract level, higher lead exposure is associated with higher STI rates. Visualizing these patterns through maps may help deliver targeted interventions to reduce geographic disparities in GC rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-137
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Nov 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support for Roger D. Lewis, PhD, was provided by the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes (Grant #HUD LTS MOLHTO162-07 ). All other authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Childhood lead exposure and sexually transmitted infections: New evidence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this