Health and Wellness: Protect children from lead poisoning

Ann Cochran - Dallas County Health Department
Special to Dallas County News and Perry Chief

Was your house or apartment building built before 1978? Do children under age six live with you or stay with you sometimes? Protect them by reading the following.

Lead poisoning causes children to have learning and behavior problems. With very high lead levels children can develop seizures, become unconscious, or even die. Lead-based paint dust from old paint breaking down causes many cases of childhood lead poisoning in Iowa. Exposure to lead can also come through:

  • Bare soil outside old buildings
  • Water from old pipes
  • Cosmetics or hair dye from other countries
  • Fishing sinkers
  • Stain glass windows or decorations
  • Paint on antiques, imported toys or pottery

A blood test is the only way to tell if a child has a high lead level. Iowa law requires children entering Kindergarten be screened for lead poisoning. But waiting until age five means much damage can already have occurred. That’s why an annual blood screen is important. Many insurance plans, including Medicaid and Hawk-i will pay for this annual blood test.

If you aren’t sure if your little one has been screened for lead, call your clinic and ask. For help connecting your family to a primary doctor, call Health Navigation at 515-993-3750.