Robert Karp on Redlining and Lead Poisoning

Robert Karp, JHCPU

Our guest this week is Dr. Robert Karp, Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn.   A native Philadelphian, he is a graduate of Central High School, Muhlenberg College and Thomas Jefferson University Medical College, did his residency in pediatrics and fellowship in nutrition at New York Hospital/ Cornell Medical Center and completed training as Chief Resident at St Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia.   He stayed on the St Christopher’s staff in a War on Poverty School Health and Nutrition project.    His 14 years in Philadelphia are summarized in a 1993 text, Malnourished Children in The United States: Caught in the Cycle of Poverty.  

The remainder of his active career was in Brooklyn at SUNY Downstate where he was director of residency training and service clinics at Kings County and SUNY Downstate Hospitals. While at Kings County he read a study from 1962 by Harold Jacobziner and Harry Raybin describing the epidemiology of lead poisoning in New York City.  Many of the children attending Kings County’s lead poisoning clinic were from three "lead belt" neighborhoods in north Brooklyn described – Fort Greene, Bedford Stuyvesant and Crowne Heights.   More recently, with publication of the FHA maps of 1934, he recognized the same neighborhoods as being “redlined.”  His commentary on this connection, Redlining and lead Poisoning: Causes and Consequences was recently published in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved and is available Open Access.

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