Lead poisoning affects many children younger than 6 years old in Maryland. Lead is often a home health hazard that can harm a child’s brain, causing lifelong learning and behavior problems. The symptoms of lead poisoning are not always easy to detect, but its effects are long-lasting.
Lead dust in the home is caused by chipping, peeling, flaking or deteriorating lead-based paint and can exist in even the cleanest of homes. Lead can also be found in toys, jewelry, and other consumer products and may be brought home from some jobs.
Lead is a metal that can be toxic when swallowed or inhaled into the body. Children are most vulnerable from in the womb until age six. But all children at any age can be affected by lead poisoning. Dust from lead paint continues to be the number one source of childhood lead poisoning. It can cause delays in growth and development, behavioral problems and learning disabilities.
While the prevalence of elevated blood lead levels in children in Maryland has declined dramatically over the years, there are still children with persistently elevated blood lead levels from previous exposures and children who are newly exposed to lead every year. It is one of the most important environmental problems for children in Maryland.
For more information on how to protect your family from these possible sources, visit http://www2.epa.gov/lead/protect-your-family#sl-home.
To see if products in your home contain lead, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission http://www.cpsc.gov/
A healthy diet is important in preventing childhood lead poisoning. To help reduce the amount of lead a child’s body absorbs and stores in the bones, the child must eat nutritious meals. Children need certain nutrients and minerals, especially calcium and iron, to make their bones grow strong.
When there is not enough of these minerals in the body, lead is absorbed. Children with diets low in iron, calcium, and vitamin C retain lead more than children whose diets have high amounts of these minerals. Also, children on an empty stomach absorb more lead so make sure your children are eating regularly. Make sure their meals consist of green vegetables, lean meats and fish, milk, cheese and yogurt, and fruits. Avoid foods and snacks high in fat and sugar. For more information on proper nutrition, please visit EPA’s “Fight Lead Poisoning with a Healthy Diet”
In March 2016, Maryland implemented the Lead-Free Maryland Kids campaign and the updated clinical requirements for blood lead testing of children. The entire state of Maryland is now considered “at risk” for lead exposure, for children born on or after 1/1/15. As a result, all children born on or after 1/1/15 must be tested for lead at ages 12 and 24 months. Children born before 1/1/15 should continue to be managed according to the 2004 Lead Targeting Plan (which defines specific areas of the State as “at risk”).
Parents or guardians enrolling a child in child care, pre-kindergarten, kindergarten or elementary school need to provide lead test results, document that lead tests were not required, or claim a religious exemption. The Maryland Blood Lead Testing Certificate (Form 4620) should be completed by a health care provider.