Screening for Childhood Lead Poisoning
What is lead poisoning?
Lead poisoning is a common environmental health problem for children in the United States. Approximately 700,000 American children have elevated blood lead levels. Exposure to lead can harm a child's brain and nervous system. This can cause learning, hearing, growth and behavior problems.
Who needs to be concerned about lead poisoning?
If you answer "yes" to any of the questions listed below, you should have your child screened for lead poisoning:
- Does your child live in or regularly visit a house built before 1960 that has peeling or chipping paint?
- Does your child live in or regularly visit a house built before 1960 that is going to be remodeled or that has been remodeled within the past two years?
- Does your child have a brother, sister, housemate or playmate who has a high blood lead level?
- Does your child live with an adult whose job or hobby involves exposure to lead (like battery manufacturing, stained glass making, highway construction, auto repair or brass or copper foundry)?
- Does your child live near a lead smelting plant, battery recycling plant or other industry that may release lead?
- Does your child eat or put dirt in his/her mouth when outdoors?
- Does your child eat or put paint chips in his/her mouth?
- Does your child suck or chew on old, painted toys or an old, painted crib?
- Does your child drink formula prepared with tap water?
- Have you been told that there is a high lead level in the drinking water at your home?
If you do find that your child has lead poisoning, your doctor will be able to discuss different treatment options with you.
What can I do to prevent childhood lead poisoning?
Help keep children "lead-safe" by following these important tips:
- Teach children to always wash their hands before eating;
- Teach children not to eat things that fall on the ground;
- Wash children's toys and pacifiers often;
- Don't store food in open cans, pottery or lead crystal;
- Feed children a diet high in iron, protein, vitamin C and calcium, and low in fats and oils.