lead poisoning symptoms

Lead Poisoning Symptoms in Children – Jan. 4, 2021

Lead poisoning results from an excess of lead entering the body through the skin or from breathing, eating, or drinking. It can cause serious health issues in children, but the good news is that it is completely preventable. At One Community Health, we include lead screenings as part of every child wellness visit for children ages 1-2. 

Who is at risk?

Lead is toxic to people of all ages, but fetuses and children 6 months to 3 years are at the greatest risk for harm from lead poisoning. This is because young kids’ bodies absorb lead more easily than older kids and adults. 

Certain young children are at an even higher risk, including:

  • Immigrants or adopted children that are coming from a foreign country without lead regulations 
  • Children with pica (a psychological condition that causes cravings to eat things like dirt and paint chips)


Lead Poisoning Symptoms 

Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body. It particularly attacks the brain, nervous system, liver, kidneys and bones, where it accumulates over time. Some children display no signs of being sick. Others may have serious, chronic lead poisoning symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • GI issues such as abdominal pain, nausea/vomiting, or constipation
  • Metallic taste in the mouth
  • Fatigue/weakness
  • Seizures
  • Loss of hearing
  • Behavioral problems and trouble concentrating
  • Learning disabilities 
  • Developmental delays


How do kids get lead poisoning? 

Lead paint. Eating lead paint chips is the most common cause of lead poisoning in children. Lead paint was banned in the United States in 1978, but remains on walls and woodwork in many older homes and apartments. 
Other sources of lead poisoning in kids include:

  • Soil near old homes and highways
  • Water from lead pipes
  • Canned food from countries with fewer health safety restrictions
  • Some toys manufactured abroad
  • Imported candy
  • Pottery 


How to Prevent Lead Poisoning in Kids

  • Ensure your home is lead-free. Ask your local health department to inspect your home for lead sources.
  • Call your local health department or water department to have your water tested for lead.
  • Wash your kids’ hands and toys often.
  • Clean dusty surfaces in your home.
  • Keep your children from playing in soil near highways or under bridges. 
  • If you are pregnant, use extra caution to avoid exposure to lead. 


Give us a Call 

While lead poisoning in children is 100% preventable, it is important to have all your children screened for lead poisoning. At One Community Health, we include this in child wellness visits. In addition to receiving lead screenings, regular well-child check-ups are important in healthy children for preventing illness and ensuring your child is meeting all the appropriate developmental milestones. Give us a call today. 

Image used under creative commons license – commercial use (1/4/2021) by Bessi from Pixabay

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