|Reduce your child's risk of lead poisoning
USA Weekend Magazine, May 5, 2008/
by Susan T. Lennon
After the alerts about lead-tainted toys from China, doctors now are on the lookout for lead poisoning, but there's a snag.
"Compared with 20, 25 years ago, children may not have obvious symptoms," says John F. Rosen, M.D., head of the Montefiore Medical Center Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. "And damage occurs at levels lower than once thought to be safe."
Lead causes irreversible brain damage in children.
The good news: Lead poisoning is 100% preventable.
Rosen backs up these Environmental Protection Agency tips and adds insights:
- Screen your child, beginning as young as 6 months. Testing can stop at age 6 unless the child is at risk for lead poisoning.
- If your home was built before 1978, test for lead paint. A new rule by the EPA eventually will require contractors who work in pre-1978 housing or child-care facilities to be certified in lead-safe techniques. Do-it-yourselfers who disturb lead paint should contain the work area, minimize dust and clean up well.
- Make hand-washing mandatory before eating. Frequently scrub items that tend to go in your child's mouth (pacifiers, toys).
- Speaking of toys, Rosen says the risk from Chinese imports is real. He says to beware "dollar stores" selling jewelry and painted toys. "If your child has been playing with or wearing one of these items for a month, seek out a blood lead test."
5% of preschoolers have high levels of lead in their blood.
Source: National Institutes of Health