LEAD EXPOSURE IN CHILDREN AFFECTS BRAIN AND BEHAVIOR
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  21. Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents Part I: How Medications Are Used
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  27. Stepfamily Problems
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  29. Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents Part II: Types of Medications
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  32. 11 Questions to Ask Before Psychiatric Hospital Treatment of Children and Adolescents
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  37. Children and Firearms
  38. Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depressive Illness) in Teens
  39. Children of Parents with Mental Illness
  40. The Influence of Music and Music Videos
  41. Substance Abuse Treatment for Children and Adolescents: Questions to Ask
  42. The Continuum of Care
  43. Discipline
  44. Children and Lying
  45. Lead Exposure
  46. Home Alone Children
  47. The Anxious Child
  48. Problems with Soiling and Bowel Control
  49. Schizophrenia in Children
  50. Panic Disorder in Children and Adolescents
  51. Psychiatric Medications for Children and Adolescents Part III: Questions to Ask
  52. Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation
  53. What is Psychotherapy For Children and Adolescents?
  54. Children and Watching TV
  55. Understanding Violent Behavior in Children & Adolescents
  56. Parenting: Preparing for Adolescence
  57. Normal Adolescent Development - Middle School and Early High School Years
  58. Normal Adolescent Development - Late High School Years and Beyond
  59. Children Online
  60. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Children and Adolescents
  61. Children and Sports
  62. Talking to Your Kids About Sex
  63. Gay And Lesbian Adolescents
  64. Foster Care
  65. Children's Threats: When are they serious? 
  66. Helping Teenagers with Stress
  67. Children and The News
  68. Tobacco and Kids
  69. Asperger's Disorder
  70. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  71. Multiracial Children
  72. Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  73. Self-Injury in Adolescents
  74. Advocating for Your Child
  75. Pets and Children
  76. Helping Your Teen Become a Safe Driver
  77. Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
  78. When a Pet Dies
  79. Obesity in Children and Teens
  80. Bullying #80
LEAD EXPOSURE IN CHILDREN AFFECTS BRAIN AND BEHAVIOR

Lead exposure is one of the most common preventable poisonings of childhood. Data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows that 6% of all children ages 1-2 years and 11% of black (non-Hispanic) children ages 1-5 years have blood lead levels in the toxic range. Lead is a potent poison that can affect individuals at any age. Children with developing bodies are especially vulnerable because their rapidly developing nervous systems are particularly sensitive to the effects of lead.

Almost all children in the United States are exposed to lead. Common sources include lead paint and lead contained in water and soil. Housing built before 1950 has the greatest risks of containing lead-based paint. Some children may eat or swallow chips of paint (pica) which increases their risk of exposure to lead.

Exposure to lead can have a wide range of effects on a child's development and behavior. Even when exposed to small amounts of lead levels, children may appear inattentive, hyperactive and irritable. Children with greater lead levels may also have problems with learning and reading, delayed growth and hearing loss. At high levels, lead can cause permanent brain damage and even death.

Parents should make sure that their homes are free of lead paint and that the lead level in their drinking water is acceptably low. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all children be screened for exposure to lead. A simple and inexpensive blood test all can determine whether or not a child has a dangerous level of lead in his or her body. The test can be obtained through a physician, or public health agency.

Early identification and treatment of lead poisoning reduces the risk that children will suffer permanent damage. Treatment begins with removal of the child from the sources of the lead. Medications can remove lead from the body.

For additional information about lead poisoning, contact your physician, county or state Department of Health, or the Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E., Suite 100, Washington, D.C. (202) 543-1147.
See also: Facts for Families:
#6 Children Who Can't pay Attention/ADHD
#16 Children with Learning Disabilities
#23 Mental Retardation
#52 Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation, and
Your Child (1998 Harper Collins)/Your Adolescent (1999 Harper Collins).

Article #45 Updated 09/00

All Family Resources wishes to thank the (AACAP) for giving us permission to use this article.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) represents over 6,900 child and adolescent psychiatrists who are physicians with at least five years of additional training beyond medical school in general (adult) and child and adolescent psychiatry.

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