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. The younger the child, the greater the risk of lead poisoning. Children at risk of lead poisoning should be tested between 9 and 12 months, again at 24 months of age, and then as often as your healthcare provider recommends. Look carefully for signs of lead poisoning. These can include:

  • Poor appetite

  • Vomiting

  • Constipation

  • Crankiness

  • Loss of energy

  • Sleeping problems

  • Behavioral problems

  • Learning problems

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

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 and cook with cold tap water only.

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.

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