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Protect Kids from Lead Poisoning

Think your children are protected from lead poisoning because you live in a newer home? Think again.

Lead poisoning is often linked with the paint of older homes. But children may also be exposed to lead from water pipes or the soldering on pipes, and from brass and chrome-plated brass faucets, especially when hot water is used. In fact, lead may be found in many parts of a home, including soil, food, or even the air.

So how can you protect your children from lead poisoning, no matter where you live?

First, ask your family healthcare provider or pediatrician whether your child's blood needs testing. If you are pregnant or nursing, talk with your healthcare provider about blood tests, potential sources of lead in your home, and what to do. The younger the child, the greater the risk of lead poisoning. Children at risk of lead poisoning should have their blood tested as often as their healthcare provider advises. Look carefully for signs of lead poisoning. These can include:

  • Poor appetite

  • Vomiting

  • Constipation

  • Crankiness

  • Loss of energy

  • Sleeping problems

  • Behavioral problems

  • Learning problems

  • Slowed growth

  • Anemia

The National Institute of Mental Health says that lead may put a child at higher risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

To prevent lead poisoning, don't let your child chew on anything covered with paint. If your home was built before 1978, contact a professional to have the paint tested for lead or to remove lead paint from your home. Also, have your home's water tested for lead. Always let tap water run for a few moments before using it for drinking or cooking, and use cold tap water only. If you're going to renovate, use contractors certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Check the EPA website for information ( www.epa.gov/lead). Activities like sanding, cutting, and replacing windows can spread hazardous lead dust. Stay up-to-date on product recalls by visiting the Consumer Product Safety Commission website. ( www.cpsc.gov/). Remove and appropriately discard recalled toys and jewelry.

Encourage your children to wash their hands before meals. Serve them foods rich in iron and calcium. This can limit the amount of lead they soak up. Good choices include eggs, lean red meat, beans, and dairy products.

Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2023
© 2000-2023 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.