Tips for Health

Lead poisoning in children

By on March 29, 2012 in Health, Prevention with 0 Comments

What problems does lead cause?

Elevated levels of lead in the body can cause problems in the brain, kidneys and bone marrow (the soft tissues inside the bones). Symptoms of high lead levels can include stomach pain, headache, vomiting, confusion, muscle weakness, seizures, hair loss and anemia have low red blood cell count in the blood.

Low levels of lead in the body can also cause problems such as difficulty paying attention, behavioral problems, learning difficulties and low IQ in young children. IQ stands for “intelligence quotient” and this is a measure of how smart a person is.

In what ways are children exposed to lead?

Lead is a heavy metal found naturally in the earth’s crust. Lead has also been used in a variety of household products.

Over 4% of children in the United States have lead poisoning. Rates of lead poisoning are higher in large cities and among poor people.

The most common cause of lead poisoning today is old paint containing lead. We hve stopped using lead in house paint since 1978. However, many houses and old apartment buildings – especially those built before 1960 – have lead-based paint on their walls.

Children and toddlers explore their world by putting things in their mouths. Therefore, the minor children living in older buildings are at especially high risk of lead poisoning. Children can get lead poisoning by chewing on pieces of peeled paint or swallowing dust or soil that contains tiny chips of leaded paint from these buildings.

Lead can also be found in air, water and food. Lead levels in air have decreased significantly since lead was removed from gasoline in the seventies. The lead is still there in some old pipes, though the use of lead solder to repair or put together water pipes is no longer allowed in the United States of America. Lead can also be found in food or juice stored in cans made abroad or ceramic containers improperly fired.

How I can reduce the risk that my child will get lead poisoning?

Here are some things you can do to lessen the risk that your family has lead poisoning:

  • If you live in a house or apartment built before 1978, ask your doctor about how to do a blood test to determine your child’s  lead poisoning and keep your child away from peeling paint. Paint peel needs to be removed from all surfaces up to five feet (1.52 m) above the floor. It is also a good idea to repaint the quarter to seal the lead paint.
  • If you are remodeling an old house seal off the rooms were work’s going on. For example, put thick layers of plastic on the doors and windows in the area where you work.
  • If there are many old houses in your neighborhood that are being remodeled, have your family wipe their feet and take your shoes before entering the house. This will lessen the chance of tracking soil with lead in it into your home.
  • Wash hands and face your child before meals.

To find more information about what else you can do to reduce your family’s exposure to lead, talk to your doctor or call your local health department, the number is in the phone book. Tell your doctor if you are concerned that your child may have been exposed to lead.

What will my doctor do if my child’s blood has a high level of lead?

During checkups, your doctor will ask questions to see if there is chance that your child might get lead poisoning. The doctor can test for lead in the blood of his child.

If the level of blood lead your child is above the range that is considered acceptable, your doctor will give you information about how to reduce the lead level of your child. Then your doctor will test for lead in blood of your child every few months until the level drops into the normal range.

Fortunately, only a small number of babies and children have blood lead levels in their blood high enough to require treatment. If the lead level in the blood of your child is too high, your doctor will treat your child with a medicine to reduce lead levels in the blood.

If one or more of their children have high lead levels in the blood your doctor will call the health department where you live. People in the health department can help by inspecting your home to see if old paint is peeling and getting workers to remove paint or cover it with paint.


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