Low-Level Lead Exposure Impairs Fronto-Executive Functions: A Call to Update the DSM-5 With Lead Poisoning as a Neurodevelopmental Disorder

Lorenz S. Neuwirth, Oscar E. Lopez, Jay S. Schneider, Morri E. Markowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Lead (Pb2+) exposure continues to occur despite efforts to reduce its environmental sources and affects millions of children in the United States alone. Finding Pb2+ in blood samples indicates that exposure has resulted in absorption with the potential for distribution to all cells in the body. Research conducted during the past 2 decades and summarized here has demonstrated that the brain is a critical target organ for detrimental Pb2+ effects, especially causing fronto-executive dysfunctions. This review summarizes the evidence supporting this last statement and, based on this evidence, argues that Pb2+ poisoning should be considered part of the neurodevelopmental disorder classifications within the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) developed by the American Psychiatric Association. Inclusion in the DSM-5 or future revisions would have impact for diagnosis acceptance and subsequent availability of resources for interventions and research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychology and Neuroscience
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Developmental neuropathologies across the life span
  • Frontal syndromes
  • Fronto-executive functions (FEFs)
  • Goaldirected behaviors
  • Lead (Pb)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

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