Lead Poisoning in Children

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that nearly half a million children living in the United States have high blood lead levels that may cause damage to their health. Lead poisoning is caused by swallowing or breathing lead dust. Children under 6 years old are most at risk. Lead can cause learning and behavior problems. It can also damage the nervous system, slow growth, harm hearing and possibly make the child highly active and less able to pay attention.

Most children get lead poisoning from paint in homes built before 1978. Lead dust can come from lead paint that is chipping, peeling or cracking. Children can also pick up lead on their hands and bare feet while playing outside from lead in the soil. Because children’s bodies are still growing, they absorb lead more easily and it can cause more damage. Children can also be exposed to lead from other places such as drinking water and from family members who work with metals, who can bring it home on their clothes. The CDC recommends testing children each year from age one through age 3 because that is when lead levels are the highest. Any child 4 through 6 who hasn't been checked should be. Also, high-risk children 4 through 6 should be tested yearly. Testing yearly is needed because lead poisoning can occur at any time.

Children are at high risk if they live or spend a lot of time in homes that were built before 1978; the older the home the more likely lead paint was used. We all know that we need to keep our children from eating paint chips or chewing on window sills. The lead dust in the air can be very dangerous and is caused by renovating or repainting your older home.

Parents can lessen a child’s exposure to lead in many ways. Here are some simple things you can do to help protect your family:

  1. Get Your Child Tested. Even if your young children seem healthy, ask your doctor to test them for lead. A blood test is the only way to know if your child has lead poisoning.
  2. Wash hands and feet often after playing outside.
  3. Get Your Home Tested. Before you buy an older home, ask for a lead inspection.
  4. Learn About Drinking Water. Water pipes in some older homes may contain lead solder where lead may get into the water.
  5. Do your research before doing repairs, sanding or repainting your older home.

To learn more on the dangers of lead poisoning; https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead or contact Four Corners Health Department at 877-337-3573. Visit our website at www.fourcorners.ne.gov Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.