Lead Poisoning & Your Child

Below are answers to Frequently Asked Questions about lead poisoning in children.
What is Lead Poisoning?
Lead poisoning is a serious disease, especially in children, and can cause serious damage to the brain, kidneys and red blood cells. Low levels of lead can slow a child's normal development and cause learning and behavioral problems. High levels can result in retardation, coma and sometimes death.
How does a child get lead poisoning?
We are all exposed to lead daily in our environment, but the most common source of lead poisoning for children is leaded paint. Household paints sold since the mid-1970s do not contain lead, however many older homes still have surfaces painted with lead containing paint. Lead poisoning is caused by eating, chewing or sucking on lead painted surfaces such as window sills and railings, or objects such as toys and furniture painted with lead paint. Other sources include contaminated soil or dust created by home renovations, deteriorating paint, or leaded gasoline exhaust in areas near highways. Young children frequently put dirty hands and objects in their mouths, taking in lead at the same time.

Less common sources are water in homes with old lead pipes, soldered metal food containers and some ceramic glazes.
Why are small children at risk?
Children take in and absorb more lead into their small bodies, as a result of their normal hand to mouth activities. Since their brains are still developing, the effects of lead are especially damaging. Lead exposure can harm young children and babies even before they are born.
How would I know if my child had lead poisoning?
In most cases you wouldn't! Most children have no symptoms, and when symptoms appear, such as upset stomach, tiredness, or irritability, a parent could easily mistake them for the flu or some other minor illness.

A child can show absolutely no sign of illness, yet have enough lead in his blood to damage his brain or kidneys.

The only sure way to know whether your child is lead poisoned is to have his or her blood tested. A simple test can be performed on drops of blood taken by pricking your child's finger. It doesn't take long and is just slightly uncomfortable.

Your doctor or health center can do blood tests. They are inexpensive and sometimes free. Your doctor will explain what the test results mean. Treatment can range from changes in your diet to medication or a hospital stay.
Is there anything I can do to prevent lead poisoning in my child?
  • Have your child screened by your healthcare provider.
  • Remove all loose, chipping or flaking paint.
  • Remove or permanently cover leaded paint on chewable surfaces.
  • Wet mop and dust with a tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) solution. TSP is a cleaner available in hardware stores.
  • Make sure your child does not have access to loose or flaking paint. Pay special attention to windows, window sills and wells, outdoor porches, and any other painted wood surfaces.
  • Wash your child's hands frequently.
  • Frequently wash infants' teething toys. 
  • If you work with lead on the job, shower and change clothes before you come home.
  • Before beginning renovations on your home contact Lead Detection, LLC for a complete lead inspection and advice on how to renovate safely.
Can a proper diet help?
Yes! Eating a variety of foods can help protect a child against lead poisoning. Encourage the child to eat at least three balanced meals a day since a child's stomach absorbs more lead when it's empty. Offer your child between-meal snacks selected from the four food groups. Children can obtain vitamins and minerals by a variety of foods rather than taking pills. For desserts choose fruits, ice milk, yogurt and milk puddings rather than sweets (cake, ice cream, pastry).

Foods which help protect the body against lead are:
Iron rich lean meats and chicken, iron fortified hot and cold cereals, oysters, clams, mussels, sardines, tuna, other fish, greens, such as collards, spinach, kale, and beet greens; beans, black, red, pinto, navy, bean soups; eggs, dried fruits such as raisins, prunes, dates; wheat germ, chili.

Calcium rich foods recommended are:
Milk at least 2 but no more than 3 cups a day, depending on your child’s age. Cheese, macaroni and cheese, cheese pizza, tacos with cheese, yogurt, foods made with milk such as pancakes, cornbread, soups, custards.

Foods such as donuts, chips, pies, pastries should be avoided. Giving the child such foods, which are high in fat, cause the body to absorb lead faster.

Avoid fatty foods by broiling, baking or boiling foods instead of frying. Buy lean meats and trim off any fat, limit use of oil, butter, lard, bacon or salt pork in cooking.
Still have questions about lead poisoning?Please feel free to contact us at nhleaddetection@yahoo.com and we'll do our best to answer your questions about lead and lead poisoning.