Fewer Mississippi children are experiencing lead poisoning, according to a recent Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) Lead Poisoning Prevention and Healthy Homes update. The update shows the percentage of Mississippi children with elevated blood lead levels has decreased from .87% in 2004 to .31% in 2011.
As part of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week – October 21 through 26, 2013 – MSDH is working to increase awareness of childhood lead poisoning prevention during the month of October.
"Exposure to lead can cause serious health problems for children, such as behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, and aggressive patterns of behavior," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs. "It's very important to know what can cause lead poisoning and take the necessary steps to prevent it."
Children can be exposed to possible sources of lead from: lead-based paints, batteries, keys, metal toy jewelry, dust and soil, mini-blinds, electrical cords and garden hoses.
Lead poisoning is entirely preventable. The following tips can reduce your child's exposure to lead:
- Clean your child's hands with soap and water before eating and after playing outside. If you can't wash their hands with soap and water, use a baby wipe.
- Give your child a diet rich in iron, calcium, and vitamin C, and frequent meals throughout the day. Lead is absorbed less on a full stomach.
- Anyone in the household who works with lead (welding, construction, painting, mechanics) should remove shoes before coming into the home, change clothes, and shower before coming in contact with small children.
- Have your home tested for lead. If your home was built before 1978, it may contain lead-based paint.
- Have your child tested. Because lead exposure often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized. The only way to know whether your child has lead poisoning is to have a blood lead test. Request that your child be tested for lead poisoning at their next doctor's visit.
For more information on lead and healthy homes call 1-866-HLTHY4U (1-866-458-4948) or visit MSDH online at HealthyMS.com/lead.
Follow MSDH by e-mail and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.
Press Contact: MSDH Office of Communications, (601) 576-7667
Note to media: After hours or during emergencies, call 1-866-HLTHY4U (1-866-458-4948)