- Drinking water
- Ingesting non-food items, also known as pica—a behavior in most young children and some children with neurodevelopmental disorders
- Living in a house or apartment built before 1960
- Living in neighborhoods where homes were built before 1960
- Living in a home with adults whose work or hobbies put them in contact with lead
- Receiving transfusions from adults who have relatively high lead levels in the blood. This is a special risk for small infants receiving newborn intensive care.
- Being born to a mother who has high levels of lead stored in her bones. Pregnancy often causes this lead to move from the bones to the bloodstream. It may cross the placenta and affect a developing baby.
- Breast milk may also contain lead. Nursing mothers who live in houses with lead hazards may transmit lead to their babies through breastfeeding .
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- Attention deficit disorder (ADD)
- Other behavioral disturbances
- Learning disabilities
- Motor skill deficits
- Pain or numbness in the extremities
- Muscle weakness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite, abdominal pain
- Impaired hearing
- Memory loss
- Sleep disturbances
- Mood disorders
- Dental and bone abnormalities
Have your home's paint and water tested if you:
- Live in a home built before 1960
- Think your child is being exposed to lead
- Safely remove any lead you find. Your state's Department of Public Health will help with this process.
- Keep young children away from peeled or chipped paint.
- Wash children's toys regularly.
- Make sure children wash their hands before eating.
Keep It Clean
Play in Safe Areas
- Encourage children to play in grassy areas instead of dirt.
- Keep children away from foundations of older homes where peeling paint may have contaminated the surrounding soil.
- If there is a chance of lead exposure outside the home, have everyone take off their shoes before coming inside.
Certain adult hobbies can expose children to lead poisoning. These include:
- Making stained glass—where lead is involved
- Soldering electrical devices with lead-containing solder
- Fishing with lead-containing sinkers
National Safety Council's Environmental Health Center http://www.nsc.org
United States Environmental Protection Agency http://www.epa.gov
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety http://www.ccohs.ca
Bearer CF, O'Riordan MA, et al. Lead exposure from blood transfusion to premature infants. J Pediatr. 2000;137:549-554.
Lead. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/. Updated February 9, 2015. Accessed February 16, 2015.
Lead. US Environmental Protection Agency website. Available at: http://www.epa.gov/lead. Updated January 21, 2015. Accessed February 16, 2015.
Lozoff B, Jimenez E, et al. Higher infant blood lead levels with longer duration of breastfeeding. J Pediatr. 2009 Nov;155(5):663-667.
Ronchetti R, Van Den Hazel P, et al. Lead neurotoxicity in children: is prenatal exposure more important than postnatal exposure? Acta Paediatr. 2006;95:45-49.
7/2/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Williams PL, Sergeyev O, Lee MM, et al. Blood lead levels and delayed onset of puberty in a longitudinal study of Russian boys. Pediatrics. 2010;125(5):e1088-1096.
- Reviewer: Marcin Chwistek, MD
- Review Date: 02/2015 -
- Update Date: 05/01/2014 -