Health Tips: Protect Children From Lead Poisoning

Leads poison in a child can cause brain damage. The smallest amount of lead can be dangerous to your kid's safety.

What is lead poisoning?

Lead poisoning is a condition caused by swallowing or inhaling lead. Even the smallest amounts of lead can be harmful to your child's health. Because it's so common in the U.S., it affects millions of children each year. Lead is found in so many different sources that any child may be at risk. Children can be affected by lead no matter where they live, or their race or ethnic background.

Young children face the greatest risks because their little bodies can absorb lead more easily than adults can. Smaller children are always putting toys and other objects into their mouth, which is an excellent way for lead to enter their body. Remember that a child can be damaged by lead and still look fine at first.

Dangers of lower levels of lead:

· damage the nervous system

· interfere with hearing

· difficulty in learning

· interfere with growth

Children may be exposed to lead at:

· home

· day care

· school

· playgrounds

Sources of lead:

Your child may come into contact with lead through dust coming from your neighbor's home renovation, even if it is several houses away. They may also come in contact with lead through antique pewter, porcelain and pottery and fishing weights. Another source is dust or fumes from jobs that use lead, such as making stained glass. Other sources of lead in your child's environment may include paint, water, soil, food and even mini-blinds.

Plastic mini-blinds:

In the U.S. health departments in numerous states have now linked children's lead poisoning to plastic mini-blinds imported from China, Taiwan, and Mexico. Most homes today have these mini-blinds and can be bought easily at most discount stores, and home improvement stores. The child comes in contact with the lead when he or she looks out the window, maybe touching the blinds. Afterwards, the child may eat something without washing their hands and still be contaminated. If you suspect your blinds of having lead, you can now purchase lead-free blinds.

Paint:

Lead paint is still the major source of lead poisoning in the U.S. Homes built before 1978 are likely to have lead paint on their walls or cabinets and on the outside as well. Lead paint can also be found on older furniture and toys. The biggest danger of lead paint comes from the fine dust that is created when painted surfaces such as windows rub against each other or when paint is peeling away.

Water:

The water you use for your cooking and drinking can be contaminated by lead water pipes under your house. Also brass or bronze plumbing fittings and solder used to connect the pips may contain lead.



Food:

The food your child eats can be contaminated if it is grown near sources of lead pollution. Lead can also be on the hands of someone who had prepared your food. The lead seams on can food is no longer used in the U.S. because of the lead content.

Lead Detection:

Your doctor can measure the amount of lead in your child's blood. The earliest this can be detected the better it is for the child because it means less damage. Lead screening is done by a blood test and if there is any level of lead in your child's blood it will be detected. If lead does show up, then a second blood test will need to be done for follow up. If the child shows high levels of lead then X-rays and other test may be ordered. In severe cases medical treatment may include hospitalization.

Ways to protect your child:

· Feed your child a well-balanced diet that's high in vitamin C, calcium and iron. Vitamin C helps protect the body against lead.

· Don't leave any food in open cans and put back in refrigerator for storage.

· Have your water tested and have a water filter inserted.

· Be on the look out for chipping paint.

· Replace all your mini-blinds made outside the U.S. with lead-

free blinds.

· Make sure your paint is lead-free.

· Always have your child wash his hands before eating.

· Be on the alert for babies putting things in their mouths.

· Don't allow your child to east snow or icicles.

· Wash baby bottles and pacifiers often.

Remember, if you suspect your home of having a high level of lead, consult a professional. It's important to remove the source from your home but don't try to do it yourself because you could make the situation worse by spreading the lead. For more information contact your local housing authority or call the National Lead Information center at 1-800-Lead-FYI.

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