Lead Poisoning

Also known as: plumbism.

What is lead poisoning?

Lead is a toxic metal that used to be a component of paint, pipes and other industrial items. While lead has been removed from paint since the 1970’s at least 4 million households have children living in them being exposed to high levels of lead, exposing approximately 500,000 children below the age of 5 years (when they are most vulnerable to the mental and physical toxic side effects). Other sources of contaminated lead intake include contaminated water, air, soil, toys, traditional medicines, batteries, solder, pottery, roofing material, and some cosmetics.

What causes lead poisoning?

Lead ingestion from a wide variety of sources.

What are the symptoms of lead poisoning?

Babies exposed to lead before birth may be born preterm, be low birth weight, and grow more slowly. In children, common symptoms include; developmental delay, learning difficulties, irritability or sluggishness and fatigue, hearing loss, seizures, loss of appetite and weight loss, abdominal pain, vomiting, and constipation.

What are lead poisoning care options?

Identifying and removing the sources of lead exposure is the best approach to preventing lead poisoning or reducing its impact. Treatments include chelation therapy (medications given by mouth which will bind the lead and excrete it in the urine) and/or EDTA chelation therapy (for children who can’t tolerate the oral therapy) given by injection.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: October 15, 2019 01:03 PM