Healthy Kids: Lead Poisoning

Lead Poisoning:  Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • Lead is a naturally occurring heavy metal.
  • All biological systems in the body can be damaged by lead.
  • Greatest risk:  Children and unborn children.
  • Lead prevents normal functioning of vital enzymes.
  • Lead can reduce the total volume of brain tissue.
Statistics on Lead Poisoning:
  • Lead was first mined in 6500 BC.
  • Lead’s negative health effects known in 1st Century AD.
  • 24 million American homes have unsafe lead content.
  • 500,000 children < 5 yrs have toxic lead levels.
  • 3 million workers are at risk for toxic lead exposure
  • Lead-based pain was banned in 1978
Lead Poisoning:
  • Enters through the mouth or inhaled.
  • Enters through splits in skin or mucous membranes.
  • Once inside the body, can damage all body organs.
  • Children < 6 yrs are more sensitive to lead.
  • Irreversibly damages mental and physical development.
Why are children at greater risk?
  • Pick up lead contaminants in the soil and consume it.
  • Closer to the ground level and breathe in dust  more.
  • Absorb lead in their stomach 10 times more than adults.
  • Because they are developing, lead gets incorporated more.
Symptoms of Lead Poisoning in Children:
  • Slowed body growth
  • Reduced IQ
  • Loss of skills
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Irritability
  • Abdominal pain
  • General fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Hearing loss and reduction in other senses
  • Constipation
Symptoms of Lead Poisoning in Adults:
  • Abdominal pain
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Constipation
  • Anemia
  • Tingling, pain, numbness in the extremities
  • Memory loss and decline in mental functions
  • Headache
  • Hallucinations
  • Unusual taste in the mouth
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Mood disorders
  • Reduction in sperm volume and quality
  • Miscarriage or premature birth
Causes of Lead Poisoning:
  • Mining
  • Burning fossil fuels
  • Manufacturing
  • Batteries, pottery, pipes, solder, cosmetics and roofing
  • Soil, dust, toys, cosmetics, stained glass, and pottery
Traditional medicines that contain lead:
  • Daw tway  – Thailand
  • Ghasard  – Indian
  • Ba-baw-san  – Chinese
  • Litargirio  – Dominican Republic
  • Greta (azarcon)  – Spanish
Prevention:
  • Run water
  • Avoid soil play for children
  • Diet rich in calcium and iron
  • Install a filter
  • Washing hands frequently
  • Cleaning often to avoid dust
  • Containers should be lead-free
  • Avoid canned foods from other countries.
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