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Lead poisoning occurs when you breathe or swallow too much lead. Lead is a metal that is sometimes found in food, dust, paint, and water. Too much lead in the body is especially bad for a young child. A child may swallow lead by eating chips of old paint or chewing on objects painted with lead-based paint.
Lead poisoning can cause a stomach ache, muscle weakness, and brain damage. It can slow a child's growth. And it can cause learning disabilities and behaviour and hearing problems. Lead also can cause these problems in an unborn baby (fetus).
Lead is found in the environment and can get into homes and workplaces through some products. Lead has been removed from many products, such as gasoline and new paints, but it can still be found in older paints and batteries. Many homes built before 1976 may have lead-based paint.
Removing lead from the home is the most important thing you can do to reduce further health damage from lead.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:
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Current as of: March 2, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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