1 Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.

2 Department of Toxicology, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.

3 Department of Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.


Lead is a strong and stable toxin, harmful especially to children, pregnant women, and the elderly. Nearly 27% of children aged under 5 years suffer from failure to thrive (FTT). Due to the probable harmful effects of lead poisoning on children’s growth, in this study we aimed to assess the blood lead level in children with unexplained failure to thrive.
This analytic cross-sectional study was performed on 200 children under 2 years of age who were referred to Ghaem hospital, a referral hospital in Mashhad city-Iran. The participants were divided into two equal groups, one with unexplained FTT (group A), and children with normal weight (group B). Baseline characteristics were obtained by a research-made questionnaire. Blood samples were taken by the hospital nurses who were blind to the study groups. Blood lead level was measured by atomic absorption spectrophotometric method (Perkin Elmer 3030).
The mean ± standard deviation (SD) of blood lead level in FTT group and control group were 7.3±3.32 µg/dL and 6.37±5.93 µg/dL, respectively. Blood lead level was significantly higher in FTT group than control group (P=0.001). Baseline Charactistics (such as hgender, parental educational level, gestational age, and socio-economic status of the family) were not significantly different between the two groups (P>0.05).
The results of our study revealed that blood lead level was higher in children with FTT. So Lead poisoning may be a potential cause of unexplained FTT. So, measuring blood lead level can be useful in diagnostic workup of patients with FTT.