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QUESTION: Could my boyhood hobby of molding lead soldiers have caused my hand tremors as a 51 yr old? 04 Aug 2008 Virginia, USA


I am a 51 year old male. As a child, in the 1960s My parents gave me a lead soldier making kit which included molds, a hot plate for melting ingots and a supply of lead ingots. I used this kit quite frequently and took no particular precautions. Today, I experience trembling of the hands quite regularly and have no explanation for this. I see on your list of neurological symptoms, tremors is listed. Is it conceivable that I suffer from long range consequences of lead exposure? Would there be any way to diagnose this after so many years? Your reply would be most appreciated.

Thank you

ANSWER: 04 Aug 2008

Dear Gilbert,

The unfortunate fact is that childhood lead exposure COULD be the cause of trembling hands now. The best way to find out if lead could be the cause of your tremors is to ask the doctor to investigate all possible causes of tremors including asking for a blood lead test.

I will also email you our Info Pack 45 - Case management after earlier lead poisoning - which goes into a lot more detail about your options for both lead exposure assessment and treatment.

You and your doctor may also be interested in the following journal articles:

  • "Interaction between blood lead concentration and delta-amino-levulinic acid dehydratase gene polymorphisms increases the odds of essential tremor". Elan D. Louis MS, MD, LaKeisha Applegate BA, Joseph H. Graziano PhD, Michael Parides PhD, Vesna Slavkovich MS, Hari K. Bhat PhD. Movement Disorders Volume 20, Issue 9, pages 11701177, September 2005. Abstract
  • and
  • "Association Between Essential Tremor and Blood Lead Concentration" Elan D Louis, Eva C Jurewicz, LaKeisha Applegate, Pam Factor-Litvak, Michael Parides, Leslie Andrews, Vesna Slavkovich, Joseph H Graziano, Spencer Carroll, and Andrew Todd. Environmental Health Perspectives VOLUME 111,  NUMBER 14,  pages 1707-1711, November 2003

All the best

Elizabeth O'Brien‍

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