10% intellectual disability, behavioural problem in kids, caused by lead poisoning

10% intellectual disability, behavioural problem in kids, caused by lead poisoning

SHARE

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has estimated that in 2013, lead exposure accounted for 853,000 deaths and 16.8 million disability due to long-term effects on health, with the highest burden in developing regions, despite the fact that lead poisoning is said to be predictable.
This is why the World Health Organisation declared this week, October 23 to 29 ‘Lead Poisoning Prevention Week’ with particular focus on eliminating lead paint.
This campaign has a particular concern about the role of lead exposures to the development of intellectual disability in children. Even though there is wide recognition of this problem and many countries have taken action, exposure to lead, particularly in childhood, remains key concern to health care providers and public health officials worldwide.
According to United States Environmental Protection Agency, lead is particularly dangerous to children, because their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead.
USEPA stated that babies and young children can be more highly exposed to lead because they often put their hands and other objects that can have lead from dust or soil on them into their mouths. Children may also be exposed to lead by eating and drinking food or water containing lead or from dishes or glasses that contain lead, inhaling lead dust from lead-based paint or leadcontaminated soil or from playing with toys with lead paint.
On the other hand, USEPA stressed that adults may be exposed to lead through eating and drinking food or water containing lead or from dishes or glasses that contain lead. They may also breathe lead dust by spending time in areas where lead-based paint is deteriorating, and during renovation or repair work that disturbs painted surfaces in older homes and buildings.
It also added that pregnant women’s exposure to lead from these sources is of particular concern, because it can result in exposure to their developing babies.
The Medical Director of Stars Community Clinic, Ebute Meta, Lagos; Dr. Adeolu Olusodo, said lead is harmful to man, but unborn children and those under five are more susceptible to the harmful effects of lead poisoning, adding, “Lead is found in paints, batteries and even petrol.”
He stressed that lead poisoning can severely affect the mental and physical development of children under six years of age. “Lead paints were the order of the day then. But since the late 80s and early 90s, lead have been removed from paints. However, old houses which have not been painted for a long time have the potential of exposing children to lead,” he added. Dr. Olusodo concluded by advising parents living in old houses to repaint the house in order to prevent the exposure of their children to lead paints. A consultant in Salus Health Consultant in Lagos; Dr. Kazeem Kadiri, told The Point that lead poisoning is a type of metal poisoning caused by excess lead in the body.
According to him, lead poisoning is responsible for almost 10 per cent of intellectual disability of otherwise unknown cause and also behavioural problems.
“Some of the effects are permanent and in severe cases anaemia seizures, coma, or death may occur. Other symptoms may include abdominal pain, constipation, headaches, irritability, memory problems, inability to have children, and tingling in the hands and feet,” he said.
Kadiri explained that exposure to lead can occur by contaminated air, water, dust, food, or consumer products. “Adults get contamination mainly from work, while kids get contamination mainly from play, especially on construction sites,” he added.
The medical practitioner stressed that, diagnosis is done typically by the measurement of the blood lead level, saying , “The United States Centres for Disease Control has set the upper limit for blood lead for adults at 10 μg/dl (10 μg/100 g) and for children at 5 μg/dl respectively.
Kadiri said the classic signs and symptoms in children are loss of appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting, weight loss, constipation, anemia, kidney failure, irritability, lethargy, learning disabilities, and behavioural problems.
“Slow development of normal childhood behaviours, such as talking and use of words, and permanent intellectual disability are both commonly seen. Although less common, it is possible for fingernails to develop leukonychia striata (the condition in which the colour of the fingernails changes to white instead of normal rose or pink colour) if exposed to abnormally high lead concentration,” he concluded.

NO COMMENTS

LEAVE A REPLY