National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week reminds us all of the serious health effects lead poisoning has on children. This happens when children swallow or breathe in lead. The effects can be very harmful to young children (ages 6 and under) and unborn babies. Lead can pass from mother to unborn child and cause harm. Pregnant women must make sure to avoid contact with lead. Even low levels of lead have resulted in harmful effects.
Once the health effects of lead poisoning have taken place they may never go away. Too much lead (lead poisoning) may harm a child’s brain and nervous system, causing problems with learning and paying attention, slower growth and development, hearing and speech trouble, and behavior problems. Since there is no safe level of lead in children, it is extremely important for parents/guardians to take lead poisoning seriously.
Call to Action: Stop your child from coming into contact with lead before they develop health problems that may never go away even after getting treatment. Once a child is said to have lead poisoning, he/she must be separated from the source of lead and treated immediately to prevent even more damage!
The NJ Poison Experts remind you that lead poisoning is preventable. Major sources of lead exposure include lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust (especially dust from renovating or repairs) and soil from deteriorating homes/buildings built before 1978. In addition, lead may be found in items such as candy, make up, imported foods, pottery and folk medicine made in other countries.
“As we become more aware of lead poisoning, we find more and more sources in our environment”, said Diane Calello, MD, Executive and Medical Director of the New Jersey Poison Center. “Chipping lead-based paint in older homes remains the most common source for young children, but we also have to investigate other possibilities, like drinking water, imported foods, cosmetics, and medications. If your home or building was built before 1978, chances are it contains some lead-based paint on the walls, window sills, door frames and woodwork.
The best way to prevent damage to your child’s health is to stop their exposure to lead before it causes harm. Below are some simple ways to stop your child from coming into contact with lead:
1. Test your home for lead if you have young children or pregnant women in your household. Remember to also do this when purchasing an older home (built before 1978), or when doing any repairs or renovations. If you have lead paint in the home, be sure to hire a professional certified to remove lead.
2. Test your child for lead poisoning. Even if young children seem healthy, ask your doctor to test them anyway since the effects can be hard to notice. A blood test is the only way to measure the amount of lead in your child’s body. Health professionals recommend lead screening for children ages 1 and 2.
3. Learn how to prevent lead poisoning. The NJ Poison Experts are available 24/7/365 in the event that you or a loved one is exposed to lead or have questions/concerns regarding lead poisoning. Call 1-800-222-1222 for free, expert advice
Do not take chances by waiting until symptoms occur. If an exposure happens, it’s good to know help is just a phone call away. If someone is unconscious, not breathing, seizing/convulsing, bleeding profusely, difficult to arouse/wake up, etc. call 911 immediately, otherwise call the NJ Poison Experts at (1-800-222-1222). “Don’t waste valuable time looking up information on the Internet when every minute counts. Many of the calls we get are genuine emergencies,” said Bruce Ruck, PharmD, Managing Director of the NJ Poison Center. “Having a poison expert give you real-time instructions for your specific situation can make all the difference.”