Lead Poisoning in Children: What You Need to Know
- On any given day, the CDC estimates that 13,800 Hoosier children may be lead poisoned (blood lead level confirmed at >10mcg/dL).
- Three hundred seventy-five children were confirmed lead poisoned in 2009; 201 (54%) were Medicaid recipients.
- In the last five years, 2624 Indiana children have been confirmed lead poisoned. As the effects are generally permanent, the lead-poisoned population increases annually.
Although progress has been made, the U.S. has lagged behind many developed nations in addressing environmental lead. Toxic effects of lead are more damaging in children compared to adults due to the child’s increased absorption, smaller body mass and the ongoing development of the central nervous system (CNS) and other organs.
The Indiana Department of Health has an expanded list of screening questions:
- Does your child live in or regularly visit a house or child care center built before 1978?
- Does your child have a brother, sister or playmate who has been lead poisoned?
- Does your child frequently come in contact with a person who works in an industry using lead, such as a battery factory, smelter or a radiator shop?
- Does your child frequently come in contact with a person who has a hobby that uses lead like stained glass, fishing or reloading ammunition?
- Is your child a recent immigrant from a country where the use of lead in consumer products is not restricted?
- Is your child a member of a minority group?
- Is your child enrolled in Hoosier Healthwise (Medicaid)?
- Is your child ever treated with traditional remedies that may contain lead, such as arzacon or greta?
- Is your child ever exposed to traditional cosmetics that may contain lead, such as kohl?
Medical professionals must be cognizant and proactive on environmental threats including lead poisoning. Appropriate anticipatory guidance and risk assessment for children includes the use of a screening tool. Primary care physicians should strongly consider finger stick or venipuncture lead levels in all children 6 months to 2 years old.
Source: John C. Ellis, MD, FAAP; Indianapolis Medical Society Bulletin, President’s Letter