Episode 3 - Dr. Robert Keefe: Childhood Lead Poisoning and Repeat Teen Pregnancy

Monday, September 22, 2008, 11:43:11 AM

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Adolescents who become pregnant as teens are likely to become pregnant again before their teen years are over. This episode features Dr. Robert Keefe, Professor at the UB School of Social Work, discussing his preliminary research on childhood lead poisoning and repeat teen pregnancy.

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Average Rating: 4.8 stars (16 listener reviews )

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Average Rating: 5stars  informational podcast focused on data, Friday, February 05, 2021

By Jessica :

Dr. Keefe’s podcast caught my attention because of the significant contrast in topics he was discussing: childhood lead poisoning and repeat teen pregnancy. The idea that these two problems were correlated was intriguing and his explanation of his research proved to be very interesting to me as a social work student. He also discussed the correlation between smoking and childhood lead poisoning, which I had never considered being connected. His findings on childhood lead poisoning leading to executive functioning deficits in adolescents was of particular interest to me, as I work with older adolescents with disabilities, often with executive functioning deficiencies. Dr. Keefe primarily focuses on his discussion of his research and data collection on residential lead exposure in the Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, New York areas and remediation efforts that are being taken to lessen child exposure to lead. Some of the information he shares may not be of particular interest or application to listeners from or living in other areas of the state or country, but I think the bulk of his research findings would be found to be interesting to nearly all listeners. I would be interested to know what has happened with his research since this was recorded in 2008.

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Average Rating: 5stars  child lead poisoning and repeat teen pregnancy, Sunday, February 03, 2019

By Amanda Augustine :

Dr. Keefe’s podcast discussed a relationship between two topics I had never even considered to be related, childhood lead poisoning and repeat teen pregnancy. Although I have thought about both of these topics separately, it was very interesting to hear about how the relationship that exists between the two. Dr. Keefe had even mentioned how tobacco use played a role in this situation as well.

Dr. Keefe presented a lot of statistics that were very thought-provoking. One of the most interesting facts that Dr. Keefe had mentioned in this podcast was the fact that doctors used to not be required to document the amount of lead in a patient’s blood as long as it fell below the amount that was considered at the time to be problematic. This is definitely concerning considering the amount of lead a person could have in their blood without it being thought of as problematic decreased dramatically in later years when more was learned about the dangers of lead.

Especially when considering the number of older houses in the Buffalo area, I’m concerned about the many ways that lead could be harming families who may not know the risks they are facing. I would have thought that when laws were passed in 1978 that mentioned the dangers of lead in paint, there would have been a requirement for people to safely remove the paint containing lead from the walls rather than just letting it sit under the additional coats of paint that existed on top of it, but I would imagine that this could be costly and hard to keep track of.

This podcast gave me a lot to think about and I will definitely look more into this problem on my own to learn more.

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Average Rating: 5stars  lead paint poisoning and teen pregnancy, Saturday, January 26, 2013

By Shannon Lynch :

This is an interesting podcast that explores the relationship between lead paint poisoning and repeat pregnancies in teenage females. Dr. Robert Keefe reviews a study that was conducted in Syracuse, NY that found a mother's childhood lead paint poisoning was related to the increased probability in repeat teen pregnancies and increased likelihood of smoking. Lead paint can be found in old homes, especially in the dirt, paint and air. Many homes in the WNY area were built before 1978, the year that the government set regulations on the use of lead paint. Therefore, many impoverished females contracted lead poisoning from their homes while they were children. Keefe gives several suggestions as to how to combat the effects of lead poisoning in pregnant teens, including prenatal information on how to reduce risk and exposure, and testing pregnant mother's blood lead levels. He also suggests testing children and treating them for lead poisoning as well as removing homes that still contain lead paint. This is important research that can help lead to decreased unwanted pregnancies among teenage females as well as a decrease in lead exposure altogether.

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Average Rating: 4stars  socail work 171 , Tuesday, January 17, 2012

By Anna Lopez :

In this episode, Professor Robert Keith discusses his research on childhood lead poisoning and repeats teen pregnancy. He believes that all pregnant women should be informed about the major sources of lead in the environment and the means of preventing exposure. By doing that they can also be sure that the risk assessment screening is sensitive to identified risk factors

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Average Rating: 4stars  great research, but where are the solutions?, Thursday, June 02, 2011

By Shermeeka Mason :

I want to start out by stating that Professor Robert Keefe's research is very well-done and interesting. I knew how lead poisoning affected the cognitive development of children (especially those residing in low-income neighborhoods), but never knew to what extent until now. I also find interesting his focus on the sexual maturation of teen girls who have repeat pregnancies and how high elevated blood level--caused by lead poisoning--may contribute to their behavior.

However, I am disappointed that Professor Keefe focuses more on the problems than the solutions. I understand he mentions various solutions and what could be done (lobbying, grant writing--among others), but does this very quickly. He does not say anything about how the clients could advocate for themselves or who they can turn to if they choose to do so. Though it is up to the social worker to generate change on behalf of impoverished teen mothers and others, a social worker's duty is to also encourage clients to advocate for themselves politically. I feel the client's input is not asked for enough and we need to work along side them to generate the changes needed on their behalf.

Also, he does not mention any local grassroots organizations in Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo that focuses on housing issues. Social workers and clients could utilize the political expertise of these organizations to improve housing. As a community organizer, I strongly feel that placing pressure on landlords and affecting them financially is more effective than not.

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Average Rating: 4stars  interesting study, Saturday, April 09, 2011

By Elizabeth Constantine :

The podcast presented the information well and looked at an issue that I had heard very little about – impact of lead poisoning on repeat teen pregnancy. Generally, the study reported in this podcast seemed well done and interesting. I had previously read that prison populations had an overwhelmingly high prevalence of elevated lead levels so it was not surprising to learn lead poisoning has led to delinquency and a loss of higher order functioning, including repeat teen pregnancy. The connection to repeat teen pregnancy also indicates the people affected by lead poisoning have trouble learning from their mistakes.
The podcast was also interesting because it highlighted a social justice issue – poorer individuals had been limited to living in old, poorly maintained housing stock and were either reliant on their landlord to ensure it is safe to live in, or had to pay for very costly maintenance. Many individuals were unaware of the issue of lead poisoning or were unable to take care of it themselves.
Professor Keefe provided an overview of lead poisoning in the region, potential causes of lead poisoning and the effects lead poisoning had on children including loss of intelligence, impulsive behavior and delinquency, and premature sexual maturation. He also believed once lead had caused damage in children, their ability was impaired to plan, learn from prior experience or use executive functioning skills. His assumption, based on knowing this, was that teens that had lead poisoning may have been more likely to have repeat pregnancies. What he found was evidence to suggest his hypothesis was true – teens that had high levels of lead were 1.59 times more likely to have repeat pregnancies, this was the highest indicator.

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Average Rating: 5stars  lead poisoning, Wednesday, December 01, 2010

By Miri S.B. :

I did not realize the effect lead poisoning could have on later life. Lead poisoning can lead to many problems during the teenage years and later. Earlier sexual maturation and repeat teenage pregnancies are two issues associated with lead poisoning. Lead poisoning as a child also makes it more likely to become cigarette smokers as a teenager. The cigarette smoking and lead poisoning make the pregnancy less healthy than if those factors were not present. Also the possibility that the children may be in the same houses where the lead poisoning occurred is a factor. Even if the children of the teenage mothers are not in the same house they may stay in the same neighborhood, which quite possibly has a high rate of lead in many of the homes. Take Syracuse for example where there is a high rate of lead poisoning. In Syracuse if a teenage mother had lead poisoning as a child and now lives in one of the five high-risk zip codes it is likely that her children will grow up in a house with high lead levels. Since the likelihood of having another pregnancy in her teens is high there is also a strong possibility that her second child could be exposed to lead. To me this is a very hard cycle to break for many reasons. One is that having children at any age but especially at a young age is a financially hard. This makes it more difficult for young mothers whom to move to areas or even homes that do not have high lead levels. When a young mother has a second child it makes it even more difficult for them to avoid homes with a lot of lead in them. In this podcast the cost-effectiveness of universal testing was discussed. It seems that lead poisoning is something that is preventable and to me there is no price on a child’s future. Possibly research could find the most at-risk neighborhoods and do universal testing. Another idea is to give landlords some kind of incentive to have their homes tested.

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Average Rating: 5stars  who is responcible for finishing the clean-up job in our homes?, Friday, July 23, 2010

By Coleman Gockley :

Among females, childhood lead poisoning is hypothesized to be connected to repeat teen pregnancy. I had no idea that Syracuse had such a large lead issue. I also had no idea the premature sexual maturation has been associated with lead exposure. I did however have an understanding that lead stays in the system throughout a lifetime. Mothers who had elevated blood lead levels are 1.5 times likely to have repeat pregnancies than mothers with lower levels. The statistics are overwhelming. I am impressed with the amount of information Robert had available to share over the podcast. Secondary prevention is not adequate enough. Abatement of lead in homes built before 1978 should be made a priority. It is too bad that we do not place our cities’ health needs on a higher priority level. We know increased lead in the system causes various mental health problems as well. What an interesting and scary situation for those folks with higher levels of lead in their systems. I was shocked by the connection made to cigarette smoking as well. I though the most significant part of his lecture pointed to the fact that African Americans are at higher risk. What a wealth of knowledge, excellent research and helpful information for our communities dealing with this ongoing concern. Those responsible need to be questioned further in order to deliberate a more rapid “clean-up” of this chemical conundrum.

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Average Rating: 5stars  very educational, Friday, July 23, 2010

By Caitlin Shriber :

While in my undergrad internship I facilitated parenting groups with pregnant and parenting teens, as part of that one of the groups was focused on lead poisoning and prevention. I felt I was pretty well educated on the subject of lead poisoning, however after listening to Professor Keefe, I learned some fact I did not previously know. The most interesting fact was that lead is leached out of a pregnant woman’s system and transferred to the developing fetus. I’ve never heard this before and quite honestly it is a pretty scary thought. Professor Keefe mentions how once a person has lead poisoning it lasts forever, so one could only assume that this disease could just keep getting passed on from mother to child for generations. Lead poisoning is most definitely a topic many people need to be more educated on, not just teen parents.
Another factor I found interesting was that lead poisoning might be associated with repeat teen pregnancy. This was also something I had never previously heard of. It is interesting to me because I did work with several young women who had multiple children while in high school, before they reached the age of 18, and a few of them were diagnosed with lead poisoning as young children.

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Average Rating: 5stars  childhood lead poisoning and repeat teen pregnancy, Saturday, April 03, 2010

By MJ :

Dr. Keefe’s research on the role of structural variables leading to disparities in childhood lead poisoning, teen pregnancy, and tobacco use was presented well. Not only as a social worker, but as a resident of the WNY/Central NY, I found the research to be extremely informative. Until listening to this podcast I had never realized that approximately 95% of homes in Buffalo, NY were built before 1987. Realizing this, awareness of the neurotoxins effects from lead poisoning needs to be addressed by professionals and publicized to the public in order to decrease future lead poisoning occurrences. Neurotoxicity from lead poisoning affects the ability to plan, learn from prior experiences, control impulsive behavior, and use executive functioning skills. The ability to transfer lead poisoning from mother to unborn fetus during the second trimester also needs to be publicized. Results of the study found that pregnant teens with elevated blood lead levels are at 1.5 times the risk of repeat during their teen years; than pregnant teens without elevated blood lead levels. The study also found that there is a correlation between blood lead level, pregnancy, and tobacco use. As a social worker I appreciated Dr. Keefe’s focus on guidelines for implementation and risk assessment questions. In addition, I would just like to add for anyone who has not checked out the additional resources link attached to the podcast. It is a great PowerPoint of Dr. Keefe’s research. I found it to be greatly helpful for catching some of the studies more intricate details.

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Average Rating: 5stars  childhood lead poisoning & repeat teen pregnancy, Thursday, March 18, 2010

By Meahgan E. :

This was a very educational podcast, and it provided me with a topic area that until listening to the podcast, I had little knowledge about. The statistics presented by Robert Keefe were very alarming in terms of the number of houses in Western New York that may have been painted with lead-filled paint, and also the connections he has made through research between childhood lead poisoning, repeat teen pregnancy, and smoking rates. As Robert Keefe discusses, childhood lead poisoning can induce negative long-term consequences for those affected, such as decreased intelligence level, premature sexual maturation, impulsive or aggressive behavior or delinquency, etc. This Podcast makes me think about the clients I work with at my field placement, and wonder if they too are experiencing the long-term, harmful effects of lead poisoning.

I believe it is very valuable that Robert Keefe discusses what must be done to protect individuals and families from lead poisoning in the future. The professor suggests that prior to the birth of a child, during prenatal visits, pregnant mothers are informed about the hazards that could potentially exist in their home, and that could ultimately affect the health of their unborn child. Further, it is suggested that blood lead levels are examined before, during, and after pregnancy and that women are educated about how to effectively reduce these levels. Further, post-partum strategies are also discussed in terms of risk assessment questions that should be addressed and focus on family member’s jobs, hobbies cleaning strategies, etc.

Ultimately, I believe that Professor Keefe has done an effective job in presenting valuable statistics and information. He also, and perhaps more importantly, thoroughly addresses what must be done now, and how this topic and area of interest relates to the field of social work.

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Average Rating: 5stars  amber w., Sunday, February 28, 2010

By Amber W. :

When I saw the title for this podcast it definitely got my attention. I don't know a lot about lead poisoning, but i never thought it could have implications such as those uncovered by Dr. Keefe's research. For someone not familiar with lead poisoning, the podcast was highly informative. I liked that fact that Dr. Keefe gave a general overview of the causes and effects of lead poisoning, other than the repeat teen pregnancy factor brought up by his work. The discussion of the western new york area's history with lead exposure was beneficial also. I grew up in the suburbs in relatively new housing, but have since moved to the city of Buffalo, and have lived in buildings constructed anywhere from 1910-1940. This podcast made me realize how lead could impact not only those living in poverty, but my life as well. Dr. Keefe's explanation of how lead particles can chip off old window's, become pulverized into dust, seep into the soil around a house, and into the water table was scary. Just because someone lives in an apartment/house thats been painted over several times doesn't mean they are safe.

Dr. Keefe's research was honest. He admitted the limitations of his work, and also offered many suggestions on how WNY's cities can improve/create awareness on lead related issues. This podcast added to my emerging insight on issues faced by those living in poverty. I never would've thought that in addition to all of things we know about the culture of poverty, and why individuals in these situations have such a hard time breaking the continuum, the possible effects of lead poisoning could be added to the list.

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Average Rating: 5stars  very informative, Monday, February 15, 2010

By Amy Ruggiero :

I think this podcast was very informative. I found the facts that were presented to be very useful and interesting. As a social worker in-traiing, I think it is imporant to listen to informational recordings such as this one in order to better serve my clients. Living in Buffalo, I am sure that I am going to come into contact with clients who grew up in homes with lead paint. I want to be able to be more informed and be able to share valuable information with my clients in order to sever them more effectively. I also enjoyed listening to some of the side effects of growing up with lead paint in homes. I think this information should be presented in other communities so that the residents may be well informed and better served.

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Average Rating: 5stars  very insightful podcast, Friday, January 22, 2010

By Jennah Cooper :

This podcast is very informative, especially for those that are not aware of the serious risks of lead poisoning affecting our society today. I was not aware of the many different things that lead poisoning could affect, such as decreased intelligence levels, increased neuro impairments, premature sexual maturation, and aggressive behavior. I found this very informative, especially as a social worker in an area where 90% of homes were built before 1978, which means there is a high percentage of houses containing lead based paint. I think it is particularly important as a social worker to know about lead poisoning, as it could be a factor in a client’s mental health.
In addition to being more aware of the symptoms of lead poisoning, I think it is especially important to know that a pregnant mother can spread the lead poisoning to their unborn fetus, as this podcast states. Knowing this, it is important to prevent lead poisoning if at all possible to not only protect oneself, but ones future children as well. This podcast discusses several prevention methods, including the option to view maps of hot spots and high instances of lead poisoning reports in and around areas in Western New York. I believe this is a very important tool to be aware of.
I would definitely recommend this podcast to anyone, not just someone in the helping profession, because lead poisoning can affect anyone and serious consequences, it is definitely something to be aware of - and this podcast raises awareness.

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Average Rating: 5stars  lead and pregnancy review, Saturday, December 12, 2009

By Lori Majewski :

Indeed this podcast was a beneficial listen because there were links made between not two, but three factors that people are relevently exposed to and do not think about the effects of. The fact that these results are localized to this area makes the results stronger for myself; I didn't know that so many homes here were built prior to 1978 where lead paint was so actilely used! It was also a shock to hear that people think ainting over it would solve the problem, so to know that some have increasing exposure stands to reason. The effect on teen repeat pregnancies must have been a difficult connectonto make, but is understandable once presenting facts show the lack of reasoning and planning ahead (and teenagers already stuggle with tis since their brain isn't fully developed). This marks yet another dangerous issue an unborn child may face that is completely preventable given the right education and resources for a lead free home. The link to smoking was interesting too as the persentiles revealed a strong relationship there. The fact research is being done but no cause/effect face thrusting is very refreshing to hear about; hopefully progression in this area will continue!

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Average Rating: 5stars  great presentation! , Sunday, December 06, 2009

By Megan Swanson :

Professor Keefe’s explanation of his study on the correlation between lead poisoning and repeat pregnancy was a very beneficial listen. This study was very unique in that I never would have put together lead poisoning’s effect on the neurological system. It makes sense that lead has an affect on the brain through decreasing ones ability to plan, learn, and use executive functioning. By altering these functions, one is more likely to make poor life choices, such as engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse, and not learn from their mistakes. The conclusion that teenage mothers with high levels of lead were 1.5 times more likely to have repeat pregnancies shocked me. By living in a community in which a large number of homes were built before 1978, makes Buffalo highly susceptible to this increase in repeat pregnancies. By landlords and city officials taking the proper steps and precautions to set and enforce stricter codes, the intensity of lead poisoning can be easily managed.
I have heard of lead poisoning having an effect on ones body, but never understood the extremity of this. Professor Keefe’s insight served as a great tool for understanding the negative effects of lead poisoning. It is motivation to educate individuals on the steps they can take to rid their home of lead in order to create a safer living environment for their family.

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