The dangers of lead poisoning in children

Posted at 6:14 PM, Jan 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-29 18:14:12-05

With the water crisis in Flint, Mich. making headlines, the dangers of lead poisoning have gotten renewed attention lately.  

Lead is a poisonous metal and is especially dangerous for babies and young children.

Children most often get lead poisoning from contact with lead-based paint, which was used in homes built before 1978.

To reduce your child’s exposure:

  •  Wash your hands frequently and wipe your feet when you come in from outdoors. 
  •  Be sure your children aren't touching chipping or peeling paint.
  •  If you notice peeling or chipping paint, call your local health department, or notify your landlord if you're renting.

Dr. Tara Williams is a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children's. She says lead poisoning can damage a child's nervous system, brain and other organs.

"We know lead has a negative impact on brain development. It causes loss of IQ points, it can cause behavior problems, ADHD, later in life. At really high levels it can actually cause the brain to swell and cause something called encephalitis."

Experts say every child should be screened for lead poisoning at ages one and two.

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