Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Lead and toys - what to do
If you're like many parents, you have probably never really thought about lead. Of course, this recent toy recall probably has you surfing the Internet to find out which toys are on the list (see them here) and which ones you will have to get out of your home. As the father of a 2-year-old, I know it is not easy. My daughter is particularly fond of Dora, and my wife and I felt guilty as we removed a few of her toys late last night. It did surprise me though to learn that around 300,000 children a year still suffer from lead poisoning and the number is as high as 16 percent in some communities, especially impoverished ones, where diets rich in calcium, iron and zinc may be lacking.
The biggest culprit, as you might guess, is lead-based paint which was still used up until around 1978. Turns out if a child ate this paint, more specifically a pencil eraser-sized piece every day for 2 to 4 weeks, he or she could suffer from lead poisoning. Children are especially susceptible for a few reasons: First of all, they are more likely to actually eat paint. Also, their little bodies absorb lead at nearly 5 times the rate of adults, and lead affects the central nervous system of a developing body more so than an adult body.
There is a test (Watch Video) to check for lead poisoning, and it involves a finger prick to get some blood (ironically I would always distract my daughter with that same Dora doll when she was getting her blood drawn). If that level comes back high, then more blood is taken to confirm the lead intoxication. The key, though, is knowing whom to check. Often times, someone may develop symptoms long after the lead poisoning has taken place. That is too late - you would like to know before those symptoms ever develop.
Last night, my wife and I talked about getting our own daughter checked (and which toy we would take to distract her). The CDC recommends children get tested every year, especially between the ages of 6 months and 6 years. What about you? Are you planning on getting your child tested? Why or why not?
ABOUT THE BLOGGet a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends -- info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
PREVIOUS POSTS• Antioxidants not all they're cracked up to be?
• Left-handedness and your health
• "Look, Daddy, there's a snake under my tricycle!"
• Keeping your cool in a heat wave
• An ounce of prevention could save lives
• The future of food
• Addiction claims another innocent life
• Pre-teen body image issues
• Institutionalizing people with disabilities
• Beneath the Carteret Islands