Mexican use of lead in the treatment of empacho: Community, clinic, and longitudinal patterns

  • Baer R
  • Garcia De Alba J
  • Mares Leal R
 et al. 
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This paper discusses research designed to investigate community, clinic, and longitudinal patterns in use of lead as a treatment for empacho, a folk illness manifest by gastrointestinal symptoms. The same questionnaire used in a clinic-based study seven years previously in Guadalajara, Mexico, was used to interview a randomly selected community sample, in addition, the study was repeated at the same clinic sites that had been studied previously. The goals were to investigate: (1) What are community wide prevalences of empacho and use of lead based remedies? (2) To what extent are current patterns of use of lead for treatment of empacho in clinic-based samples similar to those seven pears ago. The attributable risk to the population as a whole from use of lead based remedies was found to be 11% of the households of Guadalajara. Essentially this same estimate was seen for the 1987 and 1994 clinic populations. Interestingly, while percentages of lead users have declined since 1987, twice as great a percentage of informants reported treating empacho. Other patterns originally identified in 1987 persisted in 1994; lead use continues to be associated with lower levels of parental education and income.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Folk medicine
  • Lead poisoning
  • Mexico

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  • Roberta D. Baer

  • Javier Garcia De Alba

  • Rosa Mares Leal

  • Ana Rosa Plascencia Campos

  • Neill Goslin

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