Childr Health Information

Lead poisoning prevention

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Topic: General Child Health

This handout was written to answer some of the questions most often asked about preventing lead poisoning. Feel free to ask your doctor or nurse to go over any information you do not understand.

Lead can harm anyone who swallows or breathes it. Lead can build up in the blood. When the lead builds up a child becomes lead poisoned. A child who is lead poisoned may find it hard to learn and may not behave well. Lead is a special danger to children under six years old. It can damage the brain, nerves, blood and other parts of the body.

1. Before 1950 many houses, furniture and toys were painted with lead paint. Those built before 1978, when lead paint was just regulated, could also contain lead based paint.
2. Lead can get into food.
3. Lead can be in your tap water or well water. Lead pipes are found in homes built in the 1920’s. Use of lead in plumbing was banned in 1986.
4. Lead can also be found in the dirt, household dust and dust near industries and roads.
5. Parents who work with lead may bring home clothing or scrap material contaminated with lead. Plumbers, pipe fitters, printers, stained glass makers, construction workers and auto mechanics should shower after work and wash work clothing separate from other clothing.
6. Ceramic ware, bone china, lead crystal or earthenware dishes may also contain lead.

1. Avoid paint and dust if you live in a house built before 1950. You can have the paint tested especially if it is peeling, flaking or chipped.
a. Use a wet mop with dishwashing soap to clean floors and woodwork.
b. Wash your child’s hands and face before eating, before bedtime and after playing outside.
c. Do not remove lead paint yourself. Removing lead paint causes dust which can harm people. Hire someone with special training. Stay out of your home while lead paint is being removed. Be sure your home is cleaned after the paint is removed.
d. Children should not play in the dirt around the house. Leave shoes at the door.
e. Wash toys often.
2. Do not allow your child to chew or suck on painted surfaces such as woodwork, porches, old toys, cribs and other old furniture. Keep children from eating paint chips, dust or dirt.
3. Foods
a. Never heat or cook food in the can it comes in.
b. Never store food in a can which has been opened.
c. Lead can be found in pottery and dishes from other countries so do not use dishes you think may have lead.
d. Give your child well-balanced foods rich in calcium and iron, low in fat and high in fiber. Make sure your child eats regular meals since more lead is absorbed on an empty stomach.
4. Keep your drinking water safe
a. Let your water run for one minute before using it to drink or cook.
b. Do not use warm water for cooking or drinking, start with cold water. Warm water running through pipes breaks down the lead.

Lead poisoning often goes unnoticed and the effects can be permanent. Exposure to lead is linked to lower IQ scores, speech and hearing difficulties and learning disabilities. It can also affect behavior and motor skills. Lead can cause anemia (low iron) and other health problems. A pregnant woman can easily pass lead to her unborn children. In extreme cases, lead poisoning can even cause death. If your child becomes lead poisoned, your child may be cranky, restless, tired, sick to their stomach, have a poor appetite or not sleep well.

Talk to your doctor about screening for lead exposure. As early as six months to six years and beyond, high risk children should have a blood lead level test done. Medicaid requires all children receive a blood lead level test at age one year and two years of age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends regular lead screening for all children up to age 6. Lead testing is available at The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. Ask your doctor or nurse practitioner how often your child  should have follow-up checks. If you suspect your home has lead-based paint or lead plumbing, have it tested. Your local health department or water company may be called for help.


Derechos de autor(c) de The Children's Medical Center, ano 1999. Este material unicamente tiene fines educativos. No puede ser reproducido, distribuido ni modificado sin previa autorizacion de The Children's Medical Center of Dayton, One Children's Plaza, Dayton, Ohio, 45404-1815. Llame al 937-641-3666 para solicitar autorizacion o para obtener un juego maestro para copias. Para obtener mas informacion puede visitar (consulte la seccion de informacion legal).

La informacion contenida en este material es unicamente informacion de tipo general. No debe considerarse como completa. Para obtener mas informacion acerca de los complementos para leche materna, por favor pidala a su doctor.
Preparado: 1994
Corregido: 2000, 2002, 2005

The information contained in this handout is for general information only and should not be considered complete. For specific information about bathing your baby, please ask your doctor or nurse practitioner.

Additional information may be located in the Family Resource Center, 2nd floor, near the Outpatient Surgery Center. Hours of the center vary; please contact the Family Resource Center at 937-641-3700.

Copyright(c) The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. This material is for educational purposes only. It cannot be reproduced or distributed without permission from Dayton Children's.
Formulated: 1994
Revised: 2000, 2002, 2005


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