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article imageRisk factors linking children and lead poisoning

By Tim Sandle     Oct 30, 2016 in Health
Despite a raft of legislation over the past few decades, lead poisoning remains a risk to children. This is because of the multiple potential sources of exposure. Researchers have highlighted some concerns.
Lead poisoning happens when lead enters the blood stream. Ill-health effects occur when levels as low as 5 μg/dL (micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood) are detected. Such levels have been linked with long-term irreversible cognitive deficits. Higher levels, such as levels in the blood as low as 45 μg/dL, have been linked with organ failure.
Concerned about potential untapped sources, Dr. Jacqueline Ehrlich and researchers from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene have been collecting data.
Samples were taken from children (defined as those aged under 18 years). Focusing on those with blood lead levels of 45 μg/dL or higher, the researchers issued questionnaires designed to pinpoint the children's behaviors; as well as looking at things like recent home improvements, and use of imported products.
The researchers also took samples from the children’s’ homes, such as looking at the lead content of painted surfaces. This is because, Dr. Ehrlich told Drug Store News: “understanding the incidence, sources and treatment outcomes can promote timely identification of cases, as well as help inform clinical practice and public health policy.”
The survey identified 145 children in New York, over the period 2004 to 2010, who had high levels of lead in their blood. The typical age for the children was four years old. When removed from the source of exposure it took around three years for the blood levels to decline to a ‘safe’ level, although in most cases the ill-health effects were permanent.
The reasons for the lead poisoning were attributed to:
Eating paint (36 percent of cases);
Spending time outside the U.S. (34 percent of cases);
Having a developmental delay (27 percent of incidences);
Being born outside the United States (14 percent of cases);
Being of Pakistani descent (12 percent of the cases);
Having sickle-cell disease (4 percent of the cases).
Those affected were more likely to be Asian or black and live in housing built before 1940. The results are of social concern and suggest more reform is required.
The results of the survey have been published in the Journal of Pediatrics. The study is titled “Epidemiologic Characteristics of Children with Blood Lead Levels ≥45 μg/dL.”
More about Lead poisoning, children and health, Lead, Toxins
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