Southern Seven: Blood lead screenings a must for children
Southern Seven Health Department notes that about 3.3 million American households, including 2.1 million low-income households, have children under 6 years of age who live in homes with lead exposure hazards.
National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is Oct. 24-30. Southern Seven Health Department is joining the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Environmental Protection agency to bring attention to the need for blood lead screening in children and adults.
Children with blood lead levels can experience delayed growth and development, damage to the brain and nervous system, learning and behavior problems, and a host of other health-related problems.
Public health actions are needed for these children, Southern Seven Health Department said.
There is no safe blood lead level in children. Even relatively low levels of lead exposure can impair a child’s cognitive development and impact their overall health later in life.
Lead can be found inside and outside the home, including in the water that travels through lead pipes or in the soil around the house.
However, the most common source of exposure for children is from lead-based paint, which was used in many homes built before 1978.
Adults and children can get lead into their bodies by breathing in lead dust, especially during activities such as renovations, repairs, or painting, or by swallowing lead dust that settles in food, food preparation surfaces, floors, window sills, eating paint chips, soil that contains lead or other places.
Children can also become exposed to lead dust from adults’ jobs or hobbies and from some metal toys or toys painted with lead-based paint.
Children are not exposed equally to lead, nor suffer its consequences in the same way. These disparities unduly burden minority families and low-income families and their communities.
Lead poisoning has no obvious signs, and most children do not report any abnormal symptoms.
Children with lead poisoning might report stomachaches, decreased appetite, hyperactivity, sleeping problems or irritability.
Because these symptoms appear to mimic other childhood problems, lead poisoning is sometimes mistaken for a cold or the flu.
Often, blood lead levels drop when the cause of exposure is removed. However, if levels are high medications may be given.
Children with elevated blood levels may be placed on special diets and need to be monitored closely to lower their risk of lead related complications.
Southern Seven Health Department offers blood lead screenings for children by appointment. Appointments can be made by calling 618-634-2297.