Regular breakfasts could decrease the risk of lead poisoning in children, according to a new study.
Chinese researchers revealed that the blood levels of lead were 15% lower in children who did not miss out on the first meal of the day.
A total of 1,344 youngsters aged three to five were tested for the elements calcium, copper, iron, lead, magnesium and zinc. Those who took breakfast were found to have a mid-range level of lead, measuring 6.1 micrograms for every decilitre of blood.
This compared to 7.2 micrograms per decilitre in those who did not take breakfast. Lead poisoning – a rate of 10 micrograms per decilitre or more – was found in 8% of youngsters who took breakfast regularly and in one in 10 of those who skipped it.
According to earlier research, an empty stomach can boost the body's absorption rate of lead.
Dr Jianghong Liu, from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, US, wrote in Environmental Health: "This study provided epidemiological evidence that increasing breakfast frequency could reduce B-Pb (blood lead) in young children.
"Parental or caregivers' characteristics, including education and occupation, are major determinants of breakfast frequency, indicating that improving their knowledge about nutrition and B-Pb might help to prevent lead poisoning."