Lead Poisoning In Kids by Dr. Chetan Ginigeri

5 min read

Written by Dr. Chetan Ginigeri

Dr. Chetan Ginigeri

kid eating mud

Nowadays, there are a plethora of health issues that need solutions, especially in children. A child’s health is one of the most crucial things to prioritize before anything else. The problem of lead poisoning is a severe health issue in children and must be handled in the right way. It’s imperative to find out whether your child is at risk of overexposure to lead as the chances are more than you assume.
Lead is a toxic substance that is used in everything around us. From the wall paints to toys, from food additives to batteries, most of our daily exposed things have a small quantity of lead present in it. Exposure to a high amount of lead for short duration (acute toxicity) and getting exposed to lower lead levels for a longer period of time (chronic Toxicity) are equally harmful and can cause long-lasting health issues in younger children.
In this article, we shall be covering some of the crucial factors that cause lead poisoning in children, along with some remedies that will be beneficial to protect your children from this hazardous disease in the best way.

Why Is Lead Harmful To Health?

Once you get into the body, this metal gets themselves distributed among various types of cells just like other essential minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, etc. where ever leads ends up, it will hinder that cell activity. It will hinder calcium absorption of bone cells, production of RBC, etc.
Lead toxicity leads to various harmful effects on everyone. However, unborn babies and young children are at greatest risk for health problems from lead poisoning. It can bring about not only physical problems but mental issues as well.

What Causes Lead Poisoning?

Babies mostly have a habit of exploring things while putting them in their mouths. Also, they can contract lead toxicity through lead-contaminated specks of dust from construction sites, paints, etc. A small amount of lead is present in all the things which start to accumulate in the body of your little ones. To know the sources of lead poisoning in your child, keep on reading the article further.

Why Are Young Children More At The Risk Of Lead Poisoning?

It is well known that children are more prone to diseases than adults due to low immunity and strength. Moreover, lead is more rapidly absorbed by the intestine of babies when compared to the adult. One in their system, eliminating, is not possible, and it will start to accumulate, leading to lead poisoning.   Even five micrograms per deciliter of lead in the body of the baby may cause a high level of toxicity. Other than that, their bad habit of putting everything in the mouth and licking the walls affects them highly with lead toxicity.

Sources Of Lead Exposure:

Here are some of the sources of lead exposure in small babies:

  • Wall paints: Lead is used in most of the paints applied at home. Children usually have a habit of licking the paint or eating the paint chips that are high in lead content.
  • Soil: Most of the soil is contaminated with lead. When we give food grown in that soil to our young one, it accumulates in their small bodies and causes lead toxicity.
  • Water pipes: As shown by various surveys, the water that comes in the home contains lead due to the old plumbing fixtures that cause lead exposure in babies.
  • Toys: Toys are the childhood companions of the babies. But these plastic toys are painted with lead paints that, when chewed by the baby, cause toxicity in their body.
  • Pottery: Varnishes or coating found on some ceramics, china, and porcelain contains lead. This can get into the food served or stored in that pottery and in the long run, paves the way to lead poisoning.

Symptoms Of Lead Poisoning In Children:

Unfortunately, signs and symptoms of lead poisoning will not appear until its level become dangerously high in your child’s body. Kindly diagnose your child if you find the following symptoms of lead toxicity in him:

  1. Weight loss
  2. Loss of appetite
  3. Delayed development and difficulty in learning.
  4. Irritability
  5. Hearing loss
  6. Digestive problems like vomiting, stomach ache, constipation.

When Should Your Child Be Diagnosed For Lead Poisoning?

Not all children show the same symptoms during lead poisoning. In the beginning, it becomes very difficult to detect lead poisoning by the parents. But you can detect lead poisoning in your child by a blood test that will denote the amount of lead present in his body.
Here are some of the long term effects of lead poisoning in children:

  • The decreased growth of muscles and bones.
  • Developmental delay.
  • Language and speech problems
  • Severe damages to kidney, nervous system and hearing system
  • Unconsciousness, and seizures.

How Can You Protect Your Children From Lead Exposure?

As known, prevention is always better than cure. Here are some preventive measures you can opt to protect your child from lead toxicity:

  • Wash the hands before and after the meal: Maintain a good habit in your child to wash hands before and after he takes the meal. This can be helpful in preventing the toxicity but protecting him from various other infections.
  • Clean the toys and wash the eatables: Before giving a toy to your child or eatable, always wash it properly to remove the extra amount of lead present on it.
  • Water safety: Water that comes directly from the pipes contain a large amount of lead. Let it run for some time so that the lead gets washed off and never fill up the formula feeding bottles of your child from the hot tap water.
  • Add more of calcium and iron: Diet therapy can do wonders. If you are living in a place that is prone to lead toxicity, check to add more calcium and iron in the diet of your children. These two minerals are helpful in lowering the lead in the bloodstreams of your baby.
  • Regular health checkups: If you are living in a city that is at high risk of lead toxicity, you must have regular health checkups of your child to avoid lead toxicity in him. A regular blood test can be very helpful in detecting the early stage of lead toxicity in young ones.

How To Test Your Home For Lead?

Home is the place where we live, so it becomes very important to test your home from time to time to protect your children with lead poisoning. Here are some measures by which you can check your home for lead toxicity:

  • Avoid removing old paints by the sanding method.
  • Try to replace your old lead paints with new lead-free paints.
  • Change your old plumbing system with the new piping systems

Once you begin following all the right ways of protecting your child, you will surely be able to decrease the effects of lead poisoning with little efforts only. Also, make sure you follow all the doctor’s suggestions in the best way to cure it of the roots.

Dr. Chetan Ginigeri,MBBS(JIPMER), MD (PGIMER), Fellowship PICU (Kings College London)
Head of Dept – Paediatric & Neonatal services, Aster CMI Hospital
17 years of experience

Dr Chetan Ginigeri is an experienced Pediatric Intensivist with national and international training. With 15 years of experience, he is one among very few Intensivists in India trained to take care of children who need/had organ transplants. He has been responsible for coordinating the Pediatric Organ Transplant program.Read more.

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