Lead Exposure in Kids

Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum

In late October, the Food and Drug Administration announced that WanaBana apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches were found to be contaminated with high levels of lead.  They discovered this because multiple children had elevated lead in their blood samples.   

While these children were exposed to lead through contaminated processed food, lead can also be a contaminant of the environment from manufacturing.  Historically, leaded gasoline and paint with lead in it were common causes of lead exposure.  Because young children put so many things in their mouths, they are at the highest risk.  Well water can be tested for lead, and any home built before 1978 may have lead paint in it and should be tested. 

High lead levels can cause symptoms such as headache, vomiting, and stomach pain, but often, there are no symptoms.  For this reason, it is a routine part of well-child care to check lead levels in all children at least once starting between nine and 12 months of age.  A high lead level is anything above 3.4 micrograms/dL.  If a child has an elevated level, the first step is to evaluate for sources of contamination.  If it is severely elevated, there are methods of treatment. Even small amounts of lead in a child can result in later difficulties with attention and a lower IQ. 

If you would like to talk about lead, or any other questions about your child’s health, you can call the Southern Ute Health Center at 970-563-4581. 

For more information, check out the CDC’s page on lead in children: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/default.htm or Healthy Children’s article: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/default.htm.   

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