Genetic and Environmental Risks for High Blood Pressure Among African American Mothers and Daughters

The advent of the Human Genome Project has allowed for increased understanding and sophistication in diagnosis, treatment methods, and overall care planning on the part of healthcare providers for children with genetic disorders. Genetics research dealing with polymorphic changes within a genome has opened the door to awareness of how dormant genetic alleles may become active when coupled with certain environmental insults. Such genetic aberrations may place a child at a higher risk for health disparities when exposed to environmental toxins. It has been posited that such exposure in children with an arylsulfatase-A (ASA) allelic variation is associated with increased risk for neurodevelopmental damage. This initial study contributes to this new field and supports development of finer-tuned methods to prevent ominous outcomes of lead exposure. The purpose of this study was to explore the incidence of children in a representative sample from a Midwest metropolitan city with positive test results for the ASA allelic variation who have been exposed to the environmental toxin lead. In this corollary study of 107 children, part of a parent study on the behavior of African American children prenatally exposed to cocaine, 45% were found to be heterozygous, 11% mutant homozygous, and 44% normal in terms of ASA allele or alleles. Further studies on neurodeficiencies, low-level exposure to environmental toxins, and allelic variations must be conducted before a relation between ASA allelic variance and environmental lead can be determined.