Lead poisoning usually occurs when an infant or small child eats a substance containing lead, and lead poisoning occurs when too much lead accumulates in the body. Lead poisoning is a serious concern for babies and small children. They tend to be at greater risk for it because their bodies are so small. Children are at an especially greater risk for lead poisoning due to the fact that many babies and small children have a habit of putting their hands in their mouth.
Too much lead in the body can lead to ill affects, causing a variety of symptoms ranging from stomach issues to hearing loss. Lead also has adverse effects on the brain, causing learning disabilities and behavioral problems. Therefore, prevention is key!
Common lead sources in the typical home can be found in paint made before 1978, so it is especially important to make sure there are no loose paint chips or peeling paint in your home, especially around windowsills where the child may be grabbing onto, or even attempting to teeth on as a toddler. When living in an older home when my sons were quite young, I purchased a lead testing kit from a local home improvement store to test certain areas of my home that were of concern to me. Keep floors, windowsills and countertops clean and washed with detergent to prevent any lead containing dust from reaching your child’s mouth.
Another common lead source comes from the popular window treatment, mini-blinds, manufactured outside of the United States and made before 1997. Also, pottery and ceramic items made outside the United States may contain lead glazes. This means everything from cookware to your morning coffee mug, so pay attention to where the product was made.
Your home plumbing may even contain lead in the pipes or solder. Allow your faucet to run for a few minutes before using any water to remove any traces of lead that may have accumulated. Lead may also be found in soil, so it’s a good idea to remove shoes upon entering the home to keep anything from being tracked into your home.
Remodeling a home may also stir up any existing lead and release it into the air, causing lead to become airborne. Take care to keep babies, children and pregnant women away from any work being done. Clean work areas thoroughly before allowing children and pregnant women back into area.
Blood tests may be performed on children to check for lead poisoning. Your pediatrician will usually ask you questions about your living environment, such as – Do you live in an older home? Has there been any remodeling? – to determine if your child is at higher risk for lead poisoning. There are treatments available if your child is found to have lead poisoning, but treatment will not undo any damage that has already been done, again, stressing the importance of prevention.
More information can be found at www.illinoishealthconnect.com .