Interactions between iron deficiency and lead poisoning: Epidemiology and pathogenesis

Wilson T. Kwong, Phyllis Friello, Richard D. Semba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Iron deficiency and lead poisoning are common among infants and children in many parts of the world, and often these two problems are associated. Both conditions are known to cause anemia and appear to produce a more severe form of anemia when in combination. Although the nature of their relationship is not completely elucidated, characterization of a common iron-lead transporter and epidemiological studies among children strongly suggest that iron deficiency may increase susceptibility to lead poisoning. Recent human studies suggest that high iron intake and sufficient iron stores may reduce the risk of lead poisoning. Future clinical trials are necessary to assess the effect of iron supplementation in the public health prevention of lead poisoning and the kinetics of lead in the body.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-37
Number of pages17
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2004


  • Anemia
  • Divalent metal transporter 1
  • Erythropoiesis
  • Iron
  • Iron supplementation
  • Lead

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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