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Effect of drinking arsenic-contaminated water in children

Kunal K Majumdar, D N Guha Mazumder
Indian Journal of Public Health 2012, 56 (3): 223-6
23229215
Chronic arsenic toxicity due to drinking of arsenic-contaminated water has been a major environmental health hazard throughout the world including India. Although a lot of information is available on health effects due to chronic arsenic toxicity in adults, knowledge of such effect on children is scanty. A review of the available literature has been made to highlight the problem in children. Scientific publications on health effects of chronic arsenic toxicity in children with special reference to psychological issues are reviewed. The prevalence of skin abnormalities such as pigmentation change and keratosis, the diagnostic signs of chronic arsenic toxicity, vary in various arsenic-exposed children population in different regions of the world. The occurrence of chronic lung disease including pulmonary interstitial fibrosis has been described in arsenic-exposed children in Chile. Affection of intellectual function has also been reported to occur in arsenic-exposed children studied in Thailand, Bangladesh, and India. Methylation patterns of arsenic in children aggregate in families and are correlated in siblings, providing evidence of a genetic basis for the variation in arsenic methylation. Chronic arsenic toxicity due to drinking of arsenic-contaminated water causes significant morbidity in children resulting in skin lesions, lung disease, and defect in intellectual function.

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