Monday, April 13, 2009

Are there any symptoms of lead exposure that parents should look for?

Answer: Most lead exposure is asymptomatic, which means there are no symptoms at all.

Lead can be detected at levels that are hazardous for brain development, but are without overt symptoms.

At higher levels of lead exposure, children can develop stomach aches or other gastrointestinal symptoms, feelings of lethargy, head aches or anemia. But those higher lead levels are pretty unusual.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Are There Other Lead Risks For Children Besides Toys?

Answer: The most common lead problem is still lead-based paint, even though it’s no longer used in this country. Homes built prior to a 1978 law may contain lead-based paint. Lead dust is liberated from older lead-based paint when the home has been poorly maintained or when remodeling or demolition is done in the home, such as removing woodwork or walls.

Lead dust is a risk for young children and adults. Lead can sometimes be found in the drinking water of older homes that used lead in the plumbing, although this is a less common cause of lead toxicity.

I used to work for the state health department in California. We had a report of a child who was lead-poisoned from a baby monitor. The child had bonded to the baby monitor as his transitional object and carried it around with him all the time and “mouthed” it. Here is a plastic object in the child’s environment that’s not a toy, yet has lead on the surface that is accessible to a small child. My belief is that anything that is designed to be close to or around children should not have lead on the surface or lead that is easily accessible or chewable.

In another case that I saw, a child was poisoned from lead that was used in the solder to connect an ice maker in a refrigerator to the water supply in a house. Just one gob of solder was enough to poison the child since the parents were making drinks for the kids with the water and ice from the refrigerator.

It doesn’t take a large amount of lead to cause a problem, and any use around children can cause poisoning.

Until next time,