Chronic Pain Syndrome

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Lead poisoning is one of the most common and preventable public health problems among young children. Many are now aware that even small amounts of lead can have disastrous effects.

There is no safe blood lead level. Chronic exposure to high levels of lead can cause brain damage, affect a child’s growth, damage kidneys, and impair hearing, as well as cause vomiting and headaches. It can cause learning and behavioral problems for children. In adults, lead can increase blood pressure and can cause digestive problems, nerve disorders, sleep problems and mood changes.

Fetuses, infants and children are more vulnerable to lead exposure than adults since lead is more easily absorbed into growing bodies. Another reason is that small children are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. This is especially the case with children from infancy to six years of age because their brains and nervous system are not yet fully developed.

Children who are lead toxic may have no outward appearance of illness. A child’s behavior may be the only indication that he or she is accumulating toxic amounts of lead. There are now recorded cases where a child’s unruly behavior like bullying and poor performance in school are directly linked to high lead exposure. Lead toxic children are normally identified as being "difficult to manage."

Studies with children show a seven times higher chance of dropping out of high school with lead exposure in early childhood and a higher rate of delinquent behavior in later adolescence.

Lead is a sweet-tasting highly toxic metal that produces various damaging effects on health especially young children.

The major cause of lead poisoning is deteriorating lead-based paint and the interior and exterior dust caused by such paint. Other sources could be air, drinking water, food and contaminated soil. Airborne lead enters the body when you breathe or swallow lead particles or dust once it has settled. Lead can leach into drinking water from certain types of plumbing materials, such as lead pipes, copper pipes with lead solder and brass faucets.

It can also be found on walls, woodwork and the exterior of homes in the form of lead-based paint. Lead can be deposited on floors, windowsills, eating and playing surfaces, or in the soil outside the home.
Most homes built before 1940 and half of homes built from 1940 to 1960 contain lead-based paint. Lead paint was banned from residential use in 1978. As a rule, the older the house, the more likely it is to contain lead-based paint and a higher concentration of lead in the paint.

Past emissions of leaded gasoline now account for the high level of lead found in soil. This is why it is unsafe for children to play in the dirt or in dusty areas, even indoors. They then put their fingers, clothes, or toys in their mouths, or if they eat without first washing their hands.

What steps are being done? For starters, the United States is spending $147 million to address the problem of lead exposure from housing sources. They have established a system that considers the health of occupants and the physical condition of houses. They require blood lead screenings done on children especially in high-risk areas that are determined by the age of the housing, the number of poor families and the prevalence of children previously found to have elevated blood lead levels.

Certified lead inspectors and accredited lead removal contractors are helping many people in both poor and affluent sectors of their communities.
Canada is following suit. They are now fully aware of the problem and are actively enacting laws to address the problem of lead exposure.

If your home was built before 1978, chances are it contains lead-based paint. If you had a child under age six who may have been exposed to it, he or she should have a blood lead test. In children any blood lead level greater than 10 micrograms per deciliter is considered elevated blood lead level; for adults it is any blood lead level greater than 25 (æg/dl).

Some even encourage the use of hair elemental analysis as an adjunct to blood screening in detecting chronic exposure to metals such as lead and mercury.

Check your house for peeling and chipping paint. Clean it up and prevent your children from touching those areas. Cover these areas with contact paper and block them off with furniture. Cover old carpets. They can be full of lead dust. Let your children play elsewhere.

When cleaning, wet mop floors at least twice a week. Add detergent to the wash water and rinse. Wash windowsills weekly. Do not rinse used paper towels. Just throw them away. The windowsill is the part of the house that is normally in direct contact with young children. Some of them even chew on the paint found in windowsills.

Put a washable floor mat outside your front and back service doors. Wash them weekly.

To prevent lead dust from getting to your child’s mouth, wash his or her hands before eating. It also helps to keep your child’s fingernails clean and trimmed.

It is also important to stress the need to make sure that the children are fed nutritious food. Lead latches on to children’s bones, like nutrient such as calcium. Experts agree that poisoning is more severe when a child’s diet is poor.
Next time your child becomes unruly and difficult to manage, don’t blame it on his genes or his nutrition; he just might be suffering from toxic lead poisoning.

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