One Third of Childhood Lead Poisonings Go Undiagnosed in US

A study published in April 2017 summarized the findings of lead poisoning cases in the United States among children.

The results showed that roughly one third of children exposed to lead will go undiagnosed. The study drew from CDC data from 1999 to 2010 and looked at 944,000 cases of lead poisoning in the US.

Lead Poisoning

The Centers for Disease Control have determined that no amount of lead is safe for children. The metal is extremely toxic, and can cause damage to the brain and nervous system, slowing a child’s development and normal growth. This can lead to learning problems, and behavioral problems.

Lead is a naturally occurring metal. Lead was once used in paint and gasoline before its dangers were known. It is still used today in batteries, solder, pipes, pottery, roofing materials and even in some cosmetics.

Lead-based paints were banned in the United States in 1978, but can still be found in many older homes in the Upper Peninsula. Even low levels of lead exposure can cause complications over time, and children are especially susceptible.

Sources of Lead Contamination

  • Soil
  • Household dust, especially in older homes
  • Pottery and glazes on some cermaics
  • Toys produced outside the United States with lead-based paints
  • Lead bullets
  • Occupations in auto repair, mining, pipe fitting, battery manufacturing, painting, and construction

Symptoms of Childhood Lead Poisoning

Signs and symptoms of lead poisoning in children can include:

  • Developmental delay
  • Learning difficulties
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue or sluggishness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Seizures
  • Pica (compulsion for eating non-food items)
  • Constipation
  • Hearing loss

What to Do

The American Association of Poison Control Centers can be contacted 24 hours everyday if you suspect your child has ingested a hazardous material: (800) 222-1222.

Contact your child’s primary care provider to set up an appointment if you suspect they may have ingested lead or are displaying symptoms of lead poisoning.

Use our online “Find a Doctor” tool and search “Pediatrics” to find a pediatrician near you. Learn more about UP Health System – Marquette Pediatrics online here. Or call us at 906.228.9440 to make an appointment.

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