From TCW Nurse Mary: Blood lead levels high in kids in the USA

According to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report issued by the CDC this week, more than half-a-million children aged 1 to 5 years had blood lead levels higher than 5ug/dl, the new threshold-for-concern. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) emphasized that “no safe blood lead level in children has been identified”. Lead exposure in children can lead to both cognitive and behavioral problems. Lead poisoning is a medical condition caused by high BLLs (blood lead levels). Lead undermines a range of body processes and can damage many organs and tissues, including the nervous system, reproductive system, intestines, bones, kidneys, and heart.

High BLL is particularly damaging to children, because it interferes with the development of the nervous system, and can be the cause of lifelong learning and behavior disorders. Signs and symptoms of lead poisoning include:
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anemia
  • Behavioral problems
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Irritability
  • Learning disabilities
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Developmental delays
Children are also at greater risk of lead poisoning compared to adults because their smaller bodies are in a state of growth and development. Children absorb lead at a faster rate than adults do. Very young children spend more time with their faces closer to the ground as they learn to crawl and walk; they are more prone to inhaling and ingesting dust that is contaminated with lead. The report explains why that at even fairly low levels, lead exposure can have consequences that can affect children for the rest of their lives.
References: Medical News Today. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report issued by the CDC

Mary Cote, Head Nurse at The Children's Workshop, joined the team in March, 2004. She attended CCRI for Practical Nursing, St Joseph Hospital School of Nursing, and Providence College.  Her experience with children includes working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Woman and Infants Hospital, the Pediatric Recovery Room at Fatima Hospital, and the Pediatric Allergy Unit at University Otolaryngology. Mary’s favorite thing about working with children is laughter!