Old peeling paint may pose lead poisoning risk for children
BY DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick
Thursday, November 01, 2012
11/01/12 at 2:12 AM
Dear Doctor K: What are the risks of lead poisoning? How can we protect our daughter from it?
Dear Reader: Lead is poison. Although major strides have been made in the past 50 years, lead poisoning is unfortunately still a problem.
Older homes that were painted with lead-containing paint still pose a risk. If the paint peels, lead gets into house dust. Some young kids like to lick paint chips; if it's old paint, lead gets into their body. If outdoor paint peels, the ground around the base of the house where kids play is contaminated.
Elevated lead levels can cause developmental delays, behavioral problems, fatigue, headaches, abdominal pain, anemia, seizures and even coma. The first signs of lead poisoning may not appear until a child reaches school age.
The cognitive and behavioral changes caused by lead are not reversible. That's why early detection is so important. All children should be screened for lead poisoning with a blood test, starting at 6 months of age. If the test is positive, the local public health department then assists in discovering what the source of the child's lead exposure is.
Some children may need to take a drug that helps remove lead. Children with brief, low-level exposures usually recover completely.
To check if your home has lead paint, purchase a lead test kit, or have a certified inspector test your home.
If your home does contain lead-based paint, hire a certified contractor to remove it. The local public health department can help you to find qualified contractors.
Adults who work in certain industries, including some types of construction, may be exposed to lead on the job. Young children can be exposed when their parents carry lead dust home on their clothes and shoes. Before coming home, shower and change your clothes, and launder your clothes separately from those of the rest of the family.
Write Dr. K at www.AskDoctorK.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106