Lead is a naturally occurring element that can be toxic to humans, especially children under 6 years old and pregnant adults. If gone undetected, children can experience severe mental and physical development. Common symptoms of Lead poisoning in children can include irritability, weight loss, abdominal pain, vomiting, and seizures. Elevated levels of Lead exposure while pregnant can cause the baby to be born too early, too small, or affect the baby’s nervous system. While not everyone may experience these symptoms, signs of Lead poisoning may not appear until dangerous amounts accumulate.
Where is Lead found? Lead can be found in many parts of the environment, especially in air, soil, and water. In 1978, the use of lead paint in homes was banned, but homes built before 1978 may contain Lead-based paint and homes built before 1950 are more likely to contain Lead paint. How can I reduce Lead exposure? It is important to keep your house free from dust, as Lead dust can be produced from Lead paint and cannot be seen. Contact your local health department to get your home tested! If you work in construction, it is recommended to remove clothes/shoes before entering the home. Lead can be found in paint or metal of some children’s toys and jewelry, especially those made in a different country. Children often have their hands and toys in their mouth, it is recommended to regularly wash toys/pacifiers/bottles and surfaces to reduce lead exposure.
Following a well-balanced diet can help prevent Lead exposure. WIC works to reduce Lead poisoning in children with various foods that can be found in the WIC food packages. Diets that include Iron, Calcium, and Vitamin C absorb less iron, which helps prevent Lead poisoning. Foods that contain Iron include red meat, chicken, dried beans, leafy green vegetables, fortified cereals, and breads. Calcium can be found in milk, cheese, yogurt, and tofu. Foods high in Vitamin C include citrus fruits/juices, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, watermelon, and cantaloupe. Many of these foods can be found in the WIC food package for children 1-5 years old and pregnant or breastfeeding participants. It is recommended to offer a variety of foods daily and following a balanced diet can help fight Lead poisoning in young children!
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Lead poisoning – Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. Published January 21, 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lead-poisoning/symptoms-causes/syc-20354717
- CDC – Lead – Sources of Lead. Published 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/prevention/sources.htm