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 children younger than 6 years. 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 children's growth and 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 call line 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 call 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 call line if:
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Current as of: July 26, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
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