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Lead poisoning is a preventable problem

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CDC says 900,000 U.S. children have elevated levels in blood

By Daniel Crum

Lead poisoning is one of the most common and most preventable health problems, affecting children today. The CDC reports that 900,000 children in the United States between ages 1 and 5 have elevated levels of lead in their blood. The good news is – lead poisoning is entirely preventable.

Signs of lead poisoning are not always easy to see and symptoms may go unrecognized for some time. Because of this, children may be poisoned and not act or look sick. A simple blood test is the only way to find out if a child has lead poisoning.

Lead is an invisible and toxic material that can be found in your home, in the soil around your home, and in the paint used on toys, playground equipment and other common products. Homes built prior to 1978 are especially susceptible to having lead based paint.

Lead exposure can have severe and long-term health effects on young children. Some of these effects may include: learning disabilities, trouble sleeping, hyperactivity, stomach aches and pain, impaired hearing, weight loss and possible brain damage.

Parents can help protect children from lead poisoning by reducing their exposure to lead in the child’s environment, and by ensuring your child eats a healthy and nutritious diet.

Other steps you can take are:

•Get your children tested for lead poisoning, even if he or she appears healthy

•Regularly wash your children’s hands, especially before mealtime, naptime and bedtime

•Wash toys, stuffed animals, bottles and pacifiers often to remove dust which may contain lead particles

•Regularly wet-mop floors and wet-wipe window sills and frames

•Prevent children from playing in bare soil outside; provide them with a grassy area or a sandbox to play in

•Use only cold water for cooking, drinking and making baby formula

•Provide meals and snacks high in iron, vitamin C and calcium which help prevent young bodies from absorbing lead

•Inspect your home and children’s play area for loose or peeling paint. Block access to or fix and repair these areas as necessary.

For more information on lead poisoning and lead safety issues, call the CDC at 800-CDC-4636, visit the EPA Web site at http://www.epa.gov/lead or call the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD. You can also call the LaRue County Health Department at 270-358-3844 to find out more information.