NEWARK—In 2005, New Jersey’s urban municipalities had the largest percentage of reported cases of lead poisoning, as reported by the Association for Children of New Jersey. In Newark, 8.2 percent of children tested had elevated blood lead levels. When results were released in subsequent years, Newark children showed improvement, with a 40 percent drop from 2006 to 2007 in the number of children testing positive for high levels of lead.
“This improvement is vitally important for the health of Newark’s children,” reports Joshua Rosenblatt, MD, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of New Jersey (CHoNJ) based at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. “Long-term exposure to lead can cause serious health problems, particularly in young children.”
This year National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is October 24- 30, 2010. Lead poisoning can affect nearly every system in the body. Because lead poisoning often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized. A child’s small body makes him or her more susceptible to absorbing and retaining lead, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Each year in the US approximately 250,000 children ages 1- 5 years are found to have unsafe levels of lead in their blood, which can lead to a wide range of symptoms, from headaches and stomach pain to behavioral problems and anemia. Lead can also affect a child’s developing brain.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that major sources of lead exposure among U.S. children are lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust found in deteriorating buildings. Despite the continued presence of lead in the environment, lead poisoning is entirely preventable.
CHoNJ reports that parents can reduce a child’s exposure to lead in many ways. Here are some simple things you can do to help protect your family:
- Get your home tested. Before you buy an older home, ask for a lead inspection.
- Have your child tested. Even if your young children seem healthy, ask your physician to test them for lead.
- Get the facts! Your local health department can provide you with helpful information about preventing childhood lead poisoning.
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