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Question Is childhood lead exposure associated with criminal offending in a setting where the degree of lead exposure was not confounded by socioeconomic status?
Findings In this cohort study of 553 New Zealanders observed for 38 years, lead exposure in childhood was weakly associated with official criminal conviction and self-reported offending from ages 15 to 38 years. Lead exposure was not associated with the consequential offending outcomes of a greater variety of offenses, conviction, recidivism, or violence.
Meaning Responses toward lead exposure should focus on consequences for health, not potential consequences for crime.