Lead poisoning is caused by swallowing or breathing lead. Children under the age of six-years-old are more at risk. Lead poisoning can also harm unborn babies, so pregnant women should also take precautions.
Lead can cause learning and behavior problems because lead harms the brain and nervous system. Some of the effects of lead poisoning may never go away.
Lead in a child’s body can:
- Slow down growth and development
- Damage hearing and speech
- Make it hard for children to pay attention and learn
Most children get lead poisoning from paint in homes built before 1978. When old paint cracks and peels, it makes dangerous dust. The dust is so small that it cannot be seen with the naked eye. Most children get lead poisoning when they breathe or swallow the dust on their hands and toys.
Lead testing is the only way to know if a child has been exposed to lead poisoning. Most children who have lead poisoning do not look or act sick.
Parents are encouraged to talk to their pediatrician if they think their child may be at risk for lead poisoning. Testing is available through your family doctor as well as the St. Joseph County Health Department.