Principal investigators: Rick Neitzel
Sources of funding: University Research Corridor Bloodspot Lead Environmental Epidemiology Project and The Gerber Foundation
Description: Epidemiological studies suggest that elevated blood levels of non-essential heavy metals such as lead may be associated with hearing loss. However, the relationship between prenatal exposure to lead and other non-essential heavy metals and hearing ability at birth has not been evaluated. We are conducting a study of the relationship between newborn hearing test outcomes and blood levels of several non-essential heavy metals previously shown to be associated with hearing loss and commonly found in the environment. We are obtaining data from existing Michigan state surveillance programs. Since uptake of non-essential heavy metals can be influenced by nutritional status, we are also conducting an analysis that will give us a better idea of the influence of nutritional status on the relationship between non-essential heavy metals and hearing outcomes. The results of this study will lead to a better understanding of the risk of poor newborn hearing outcomes associated with prenatal environmental exposures to non-essential heavy metals and essential nutrients.