Lead Poisoning Prevention
There has long been concern that lead poisoning in children goes widely undetected. Children ages 1-5 are at the highest risk for lead. There has long been concern that children are under tested for lead poisoning, and a new study shows that's especially true in the west..
Why is testing important?
It’s important to identify an elevated blood lead level in your child early because of the potential negative health impacts which can cause cognitive and attention deficits as well as insults to the nervous system, kidneys, bladder, and hormonal systems
Lead poisoning is one of the most common and preventable childhood health problems in the United States today. Children become lead poisoned when there is lead in their body by breathing leaded dust or putting things containing lead in their mouth
How Children are affected
If a child has low levels of lead in their system, they may have:
- damage to the nervous system, kidneys, and the brain
- hearing damage
- learning disabilities
- behavioral problems
- decreased muscle and bone growth
At higher levels, may cause seizures, unconsciousness and even death.
If symptoms do occur they may be mistaken for other illnesses, which include: loss of appetite/weight, stomach ache, irritability, being more tired than usual, constipation, headache and frequent vomiting. The only way to know if your child has been exposed is by a simple blood test. Test are easy to do and are often done at the 1- year and 2-year Well Child checks at the pediatrician's office.
Possible Sources of lead exposure:
- Lead-based paint (pre-1978)
- Work (take home lead)
- Soil contaminated with peeling or chipping paint from the outside of homes or buildings
- Water from lead and copper pipes, with leaded solder or fixtures containing lead
- Products such as vinyl mini-blinds, chalk, meta candle wicks, crayons
- Hobbies like ceramics, refinishing furniture, gun reloading, target practice, fishing weights and stained glass
- Some home or folk remedies
What Can a Parent Do?
If you are concerned, have your child tested for lead. This is especially important if your house was built before 1978. You can also have the paint tested and use a lead safe contractor when doing renovations.
Other precautions include washing your child’s hands and toys often, wearing gloves and use soap and water to clean floors, window sills and other surfaces regularly and feeding your child foods high in iron, calcium, vitamin C, and low in fats. If your work involves lead, wash your hands and change your clothes before coming home.
If you live in the West, just get that test.
For more information, contact your Local Health Department.