According to the National Alliance for Mental Health, nearly 1 in 25 adults in the US experience a serious mental issue in a given year. This adds up to 9.8 million people fighting mental illness.
Several risk factors add to such a poor mental health outlook. On top of that, researcher have come up with another risk factor for poor mental health – lead exposure. The latest research concludes that exposure of the metal, lead, in childhood can increase the likelihood of poor mental health as the child grows up.
Lead Exposure As A Risk Factor
Lead is a toxic metal. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that there is no exact level that is considered safe when it comes to lead exposure. Ingested particles of lead tend to collect in a person’s brain, bones, and other organs.
This swells the risk of health problems including damage to the kidneys and high blood pressure. What’s more, accumulated lead can disturb the central nervous system. Some studies also claim that lead exposure during one’s young age can reach a finale of intelligence and behavioral deficits.
Building on this, the latest study from the Duke University in Durham, NC, indicates that lead exposure during childhood can impact how one’s personality develops. Moreover, it can also predispose them to mental health issues in their childhood.
The findings of this study reveal that those folks who showed high markers of lead in their blood during their young age were at an increased risk of experiencing mental concerns by the time they turned 38.
The study also learned that such people with high levels of lead in their blood are vulnerable to developing unhealthy personality traits like neuroticism.
Unfortunately, lead is commonly used for several reasons. For instance, the metal is used in the construction of water pipes, added into the paint to safeguard from corrosion, and also put into gasoline to enhance an engine’s durability.
What’s more, lead is extensively used in pigments, cable sheathing, weight belts for diving, car batteries, radiation protection, and so on. Such wide usage shows that it is highly likely for a child to come in excessive contact with lead, which can generously raise his odds of mental health issues in his adulthood.
Exposure To Lead Also Culminates In Personality Issues
This study also learned that exposure of this metal can also culminate in personality issues. The researchers quizzed family members and friends about the participants’ personalities. They found that lead exposure made people less agreeable and gave them more neurotic tendencies.
Over and above that, children who were exposed to the metal grew up to be less conscientious as compared to participants who had lower exposure to lead in their young age.
On top of that, researchers noted that unhealthy personality traits made it tough for people to adapt to different life situations, which negatively affected their job satisfaction levels and relationships. Such personality traits also associated with poor mental health.
Therefore, researchers have suggested that lead exposure is another risk factor to poor mental health.