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For Parents

What is Lead Poisoning?

Lead poisoning is an illness caused by swallowing or breathing lead, which is a heavy metal that is toxic to humans. Children under 6 years of age are more vulnerable to lead poisoning than adults, because a child's growing brain and body absorb lead more easily. This absorption of lead can result in damage to the child's developing brain and nervous system and can also lead to serious health problems. Children exposed to lead often have no immediate symptoms and may not look or act sick. It is very important to have your child's doctor do a blood lead test between 9 and 12 months of age and again at 24 months of age to ensure your child is not being exposed to lead.

Lead Exposure Can Cause:
  • Anemia
  • Behavior problems
  • Growth delays
  • Hearing loss
  • Hyperactivity or irritability
  • Learning problems
  • Lower IQ
  • Shortened attention span
High Levels of Lead Exposure Can Cause:
  • Intellectual disability
  • Convulsions
  • Coma
  • Death

Lead Poisoning Prevention Strategies

Lead can be found in common, everyday items, such as paint in homes built before 1978, bare soil, water pipes, imported goods, glazed ceramics, fishing weights, bullets, hobby supplies, and adults' work clothes; however, simple steps can be taken to reduce or eliminate exposure:

  • Damp dust and mop your home regularly
  • Prepare formula with cool sterile water instead of tap water
  • Feed children a diet high in calcium and iron
  • Wash your child's hands and toys often
  • Take your child for regular health visits
  • Request blood lead testing at 12 and 24 months of age or anytime that you suspect exposure has occurred
  • Do not allow children to play near bare soil or peeling paint

Lead poisoning is entirely preventable. Learning how to identify and reduce sources of lead exposure in the home can help keep your children safe from lead. Become informed, learn the risks associated with lead poisoning, and help us "Keep Alabama's Kids Lead Free!"


Page last updated: February 5, 2024