Conditions + Treatments

Lead Poisoning in Children

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Lead poisoning occurs when lead — a metal that was once a common ingredient in paint and is still used in batteries, pipes, pottery and even cosmetics — builds up in the body. Little by little, lead can collect in your child's blood, brain and bones. Symptoms may take a long time to appear, but at toxic levels, lead poisoning can affect your child's language, attention and even IQ. Lead can affect people of all ages, but children aged 6 and younger are especially at risk, in part because their growing bodies absorb more lead.

  • Lead poisoning is a totally preventable disease.

  • The most common causes of lead poisoning are lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust in older buildings.

  • Lead exposure can harm young children and babies - even before they are born.

  • Even children that seem healthy can have high levels of lead in their bodies.

  • High levels of lead may also cause seizures, coma and, in rare cases, death.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have estimates that almost 500,000 children between the ages of 1 and 5 living in the United States have elevated lead levels. Approximately one out of every 25 children has dangerous levels of lead in their bloodstream.

How Children's approaches lead poisoning

At Boston Children's Hospital's Pediatric Environmental Health Center, our staff is doing research to answer important questions about lead poisoning, including how lead affects children of different ages and what are the best ways to treat children with lead poisoning.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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