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Protect Kids From Lead Poisoning

Think your children are protected from lead poisoning because you live in a newer home? Think again.

Although lead poisoning is often associated with the paint of older homes, children may be exposed to lead from water pipes or the soldering on pipes, and from leaching from brass and chrome-plated brass faucets, especially when hot water is used. In fact, lead may be found in many parts of a home, including soil, food, or even the air.

So how can you protect your children from lead poisoning, no matter where you live?

First, ask your family doctor or pediatrician to have your child's blood tested. The younger the child, the greater the risk of lead poisoning. Have children tested between nine and 12 months, again at 24 months of age, and then as frequently as your doctor recommends. Look carefully for symptoms of lead poisoning, including poor appetite, vomiting, constipation, crankiness, loss of energy, or sleeping, behavioral, or learning problems. The National Institute of Mental Health says that lead may put a child at higher risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

To prevent lead poisoning, don't allow your child to chew on anything covered with paint. Contact a professional if your home was built before 1978 to have the paint tested for lead or to remove lead paint from your home. Also, have your home's water tested for lead. Always let tap water run for a few moments before using it and cook with cold tap water only.

Encourage your children to wash their hands before meals. Serve them foods rich in iron and calcium, which limit the amount of lead they absorb. Good choices include eggs, lean red meat, beans, and dairy products.