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DIE 03/22 - La exposición al plomo en los niños uruguayos y sus efectos en los desempeños educativos. Un estudio en base a los datos de la Unidad Pediátrica Ambiental

ISSNISSN/ISBN: 2301-1963
AutorAuthor/s: Suarez Ferrer, Lucía
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This study assesses the effects of public health interventions carried out by Unidad Pediátrica Ambiental (UPA) on the educational achievements of lead-exposed children that attended public primary schools between 2013 and 2019. In Uruguay, UPA is in charge of detecting and assisting children and adolescents exposed to environmental pollutants, including lead. One of the contributions this study makes is that a representative database of this population is used. There is an extensive international literature showing that lead-exposure is associated with diminished IQ, and worsened cognitive and behavioral outcomes. At the same time, previous studies (mainly assessing developed countries) identify the positive effects of environmental lead reduction interventions on educational improvements (both in academic and behavioral outcomes). This study is based on the clinical histories of the population intervened by UPA in years 2010 to 2019, which, to date, are the most comprehensive data source regarding children  exposed to lead in Uruguay. The database used here combines information at the individual level from the clinical-environmental histories of the UPA (digitalized for this research), and information from the educational public system (ANEP) on educational outcomes for 2013-2019.The identification strategy is based on a Fuzzy Regression Discontinuity Design, exploiting the fact that assignment to public health interventions is based on a threshold set in terms of lead in blood levels (5μg/dl and above). Estimation results indicate that public health interventions improve by 5,4 % the behavior grades in the group of children who had been assigned to the intervention relative to the control group. At the same time, the treatment seems to have a greater effect on the behavior sufficiency threshold, since in this case, the magnitude of the effect increases to 10,5 %. Positive coefficients were also found in regard to academic results (performance grade), but effect sizes are lower and imprecise in some specifications.   
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