Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Samurai Mothers & Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning isn't just a problem for post-industrial city kids — the children of samurai suffered from it too, a new study suggests. An analysis of bones of children who lived as many as 400 years ago showed sky-high lead levels, which scientists now think came from their mothers' makeup.

At the castle town of Kokura, in the modern city of Kitakyushu, samurai and their families were buried in large clay pots at a local Zen Buddhist temple. A team lead by Tamiji Nakashima, an anatomist at the University of Occupational and Environmental Health in Kitakyushu, studied the remains of 70 samurai men, their wives and children. The researchers sampled the lead in rib bones, and X-rayed some of the children's long arm and leg bones looking for signs of lead poisoning.

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