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.
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 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
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
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.
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).
#45 Updated 09/00