Lead Poisoning In Children – Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

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Does your child constantly nibble on plastic objects and pencil ends? Are you worried that he might fall sick? Lead poisoning is one of the most common environmental health problems in the world. The negative effect of this metal has been known for over 100 years.

Children of any age can be poisoned with lead. To be one the safe side, it is suggested that you test for lead poisoning before your child starts to crawl. Read on to know more about the causes, symptoms, and treatments of lead poisoning. You can also learn about a few preventive measures to avoid this serious ailment.

Causes Of Lead Poisoning In Children:

Lead -based paint releases lead dust in case of chipping and peeling. The metal gets absorbed in your child’s body when they put their hand in the mouth. Children with pica disorder, a craving for non-food items, are also at a high risk of being poisoned this way.

Lead does not get absorbed through the skin. In fact, you cannot smell, taste or see lead particles. Some common sources of lead contamination include:

  1. Lead- based paints
  2. Water flowing from worn out, lead-contaminated pipes, taps or faucets.
  3. Toys, fancy jewelries for children
  4. Glazed bowls
  5. Medicines
  6. Soil pollution by car exhaust or constructions of buildings.
  7. Household dust

[ Read: Pica In Children ]

Signs And Symptoms Of Lead Poisoning In Children:

This deadly metal builds up slowly over time. With repeated exposure it can lead to severe brain damage. There are no obvious symptoms of lead poisoning but the most known symptoms include:

  1. Tremor
  2. Weight loss
  3. Kidney damage
  4. Hearing problem
  5. Anemia
  6. Difficulty sleeping
  7. Constipation
  8. Headache
  9. Muscle weakness
  10. Seizure
  11. Low energy
  12. Reduced sensation
  13. Loss of appetite
  14. Abdominal pain and cramps (this is caused due to severe lead poisoning).
  15. Vomiting
  16. Staggering walk
  17. Permanent brain damage

[ Read: Bloody Stools In Children ]

Complications Due To Lead Poisoning:

Lead poisoning affects the communication between the neurons and the brain. It also interferes with the normal development. This can result in lowered IQ, learning disabilities and slow development. Some other complications include:

  • Slow growth
  • Academic problems
  • Hearing problems
  • Coma
  • Reduced IQ
  • Kidney damage
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Poor coordination
  • It is also associated with the behavioral problems like aggression and hyperactivity.

[ Read: Healthy Habits For Kids ]

Prevention At Home:

You can take some simple measures at home to protect your child from lead poisoning. Here is what you can do:

  • Keep your home dust-free as much as possible.
  • You and your family members should wash your hands before eating.
  • When using water from the tap, let it run for a few seconds before your child uses it or you cook with it.
  • Do consider doing a water test at home to find out if the water you use is lead-free. If the result comes out positive showing the presence of lead, consider using bottled water or install high-end filtering device.
  • Avoid buying canned food from the supermarket.

Treating Lead Poisoning In Children:

The treatment varies according to the level of lead in the blood. Small amount of lead poisoning can be treated easily. Children with severely high lead levels need immediate medical attention.

  1. A blood test is the only way to find out if your child has lead in the body.
  2. Doctors generally recommend children to take nutritious diet or supplement.
  3. Calcium, vitamin C and iron in the diet help the body to absorb lead.
  4. Chelation therapy is recommended by the doctor in severe cases. The medicine binds with the metal and helps to bring down the level of lead in the blood.

[ Read: Vomiting In Children ]

Lead is a powerful poison that stays in the blood for a long time. Children with low level of exposure usually recover completely. But in many cases, prolonged period of lead poisoning, decreases intellectual function. This can happen even if appropriate treatment and medicines are given. High level of lead in the blood also leads to severe and irreversible brain damage. It is important that you take preventive steps to protect your child from this poisonous metal.

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