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Lead Poisoning in Children

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Lead poisoning is dangerous levels of lead in your child's blood. Poisoning usually happens when items that contain lead are accidentally inhaled or swallowed. Lead is found in paint, batteries, and gasoline fumes. Lead is easily absorbed and can cause nervous system damage. Lead also replaces calcium in bones. Children younger than 3 years are at a higher risk for lead poisoning than older children or adults. Lead gets more easily to the brain, and more lead is absorbed in young children. Young children are also more likely to put items in their mouths.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Intake and output

may be measured. Healthcare providers will keep track of the amount of liquid your child is getting. They also may need to know how much your child is urinating. Ask healthcare providers if they need to measure or collect your child's urine.

An IV

is a small tube placed in your child's vein that is used to give medicine or liquids.

Medicines:

  • Iron may be given to treat anemia. Your child's healthcare provider will tell you how much you should give your child.
  • Vitamins and minerals may be needed. Calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C can help decrease blood levels of lead. Your child's healthcare provider will tell you how much you should give of each.
  • Chelation therapy will bind with lead in the blood so it can be removed through your child's urine and bowel movement. These may be given as a pill or through an IV.
  • Anticonvulsant medicine is given to control seizures.
  • Pain medicine may be given.
  • Steroids may be given to treat swelling in the brain caused by the lead.

Tests:

  • Blood tests may be used to check for lead or signs of lead poisoning, such as anemia (low red blood cells).
  • X-rays may show where the lead is, if it was swallowed.

RISKS:

Left untreated, lead poisoning may cause long-term mental and physical problems, and become life-threatening. Severe poisoning can cause seizures and coma.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.