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Lead poisoning
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Author:  sashi [ Sat May 05, 2012 10:45 am ]
Post subject:  Lead poisoning

So Ada's lead level came back a little high at her one year check up. The doctor didn't seem super concerned and said she sees this happen every couple of weeks or so but I'm freaking out a little bit. It's at a level 6.something, so it could be worse, but I'm still feeling like we should have known to do something to prevent it. We're going to get our water tested but I have a feeling it's just a result of city living and her constantly putting everything and anything in her mouth. And her fingers are constantly in there if something else isn't.
The doctor is saying for her to take an iron (even though those levels are fine) and vitamin c supplement to help block any other absorption. And from what I've read we need to be really vigilant about dusting, cleaning the floors, taking off shoes before tracking in any lead from the streets, etc. I'm almost wondering if I should get rid of some of her really old hand me down toys from her cousins. Has anyone else had to deal with this? Should I not be as worried as I am right now?

Author:  torque [ Sat May 05, 2012 11:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

i used to live in a real lead hotspot area and it was a real plague there. we had one borderline test one time (when we lived in an old house that probably had lead paint) and then we moved and never had the problem again.

do you have access to any public programs for house testing? ( i'm assuming you live in a place where there may be old paint, environmental contam, etc etc). if you're sure it's not your house or your water then you can go to town on the cleaning/dusting/etc to keep out airborne stuff, and maybe put away the older toys til she's no longer tasting all her toys.

i would add that the bisque with testing is that you might find something, and then abatement/remediation costs can be ridiculous. if you find lead in your water, your house or yard, what are you going to do? it was like a frigging nightmare (landlord had to make repairs but couldn't afford it. in the 5 years that the resulting legal battle would drag on, my kids would get poisoned.) and so we just moved to a newer building. hope your experience is better.

Author:  sashi [ Sat May 05, 2012 9:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

We live in an old brownstone on a busy street. I emailed our landlord and he said any lead paint was removed during the last renovation and he would figure out where to get test kits if we want. I think NYC has free water test kits. And i just found out it is recommended to let your water run for a minute after not using it for a few hours. But yeah, I can't imagine him doing major renovations if need be. And dust from other sources can definitely be blowing in.
I just feel like I've been pretty laid back about her putting things in her mouth, playing in dirt, not constantly washing her hands, etc., so I'm feeling a bit guilty. And upset that we've been so careful about products we buy, food choices we make, and just keeping her super healthy in general but this can still happen.

Author:  torque [ Sat May 05, 2012 9:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

well, the good thing is that the level is so low, and you can give mineral supplements, and just keep more vigilant about dust.
Also, i can't remember your situation- is there any other place (caregiver location, places you frequently visit) that might be sources? you might beat yourself up to find that the library or the dirt in the park you go to may be the culprit. so, uh, easy on those self-beatings. ;-)

Author:  sashi [ Mon May 07, 2012 12:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

Thanks torque. I think I calmed down a bit about it. I'm home with her so we're between our apartment, different playgrounds and parks, walking arounds, food shopping, ect. all day. We'll check the obvious stuff in the apartment, clean more (I feel like we dust and then there is dust a few min later in this place), and make sure she is getting lots of extra iron. If her levels are still high when she gets retested then I'll panic again ;-)

Author:  Tofulish [ Mon May 07, 2012 2:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

Sorry her levels came back high. I hope that they come down soon.

I just found out that one of our area's biggest polluters is just a few blocks behind our house.

Author:  Butternut [ Mon May 07, 2012 2:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

Ugh, tofulish.

Sashi, do you know if any of the kids/babies in your neighborhood have also tested higher? I'm wondering if any of the other parents might have gone down this road and can give you the info they gleaned.

Author:  sashi [ Mon May 07, 2012 9:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

Yikes Tofulish. At least now you are aware of it.

Butternut, I'm going to email the neighborhood parent group and see. My landlord emailed the previous tenants from our apartment and the ones below us to see if their kids ever had higher levels.

Author:  bexsa [ Wed May 09, 2012 1:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

Sounds like your landlord is on your team, which is great! We just got a$ 4500 grant from the FHA for lead removal so there are programs out there to help if it's needed. Hope her levels are down next time!

Author:  Tofulish [ Fri Nov 09, 2012 10:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

Hey Sashi, any updates? I was thinking of you bc we had Leela's first year, and are holding off on the lead testing.

I had a few questions (for anyone really):

(1) Did you do venipuncture or heel stick. Leela hates the MD so much and the idea of holding her down for a blood draw (either method) is pretty bad. But my MD says she only does venipuncture and heel stick is not reliable. I know from Ariann (thank you ladybro!) that heel stick is the standard of care in most areas and that she is going to use that test.

(2) Did anyone reject the test? What were your reasons? An AP mom we know said that the most well-respected holistic ped here doesn't do the test bc he finds it useless. He'd rather have people watch for signs of lead poisoning than test for it.

(3) How do you manage the pain of draw? Leela is seriously a sobbing screaming mess at the MD and she is the most laid back happy kidlet ever most days.

Author:  littlebear [ Fri Nov 09, 2012 10:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

This recently happened to a friend of mine, the mom had to stop breastfeeding because she and the baby have high lead levels. They believe it is in their pipes. I'm not sure what the results were. Not sure if you are still breastfeeding or if that could help.

Author:  kimba [ Sat Nov 10, 2012 3:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

This site (though I am not sure how accurate) says no need to stop breast feeding unless the mother had severe lead poisoning at some point in her life. It also says the lead in breast milk is 5% or less than the blood levels.

Author:  refinnej [ Sat Nov 10, 2012 5:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

Diagnosing lead poisoning by watching for symptoms sounds like a dangerous game to me; it seems a bit irresponsible of a physician to suggest this as a matter of course. The signs in the early stages are things like tiredness, constipation, irritability. These can easily be mistaken for illness, teething or even just being a fussy toddler.

I've encountered enough kids with lead poisoning that we're going to have Freya tested even though we might have to pay.

Author:  littlebear [ Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

kimba wrote:
This site (though I am not sure how accurate) says no need to stop breast feeding unless the mother had severe lead poisoning at some point in her life. It also says the lead in breast milk is 5% or less than the blood levels.

Hmmm, interesting. The husband is a pediatrician. She had already breastfed for a year, it was at his one year checkup that they found out, so it wasn't a huge deal to stop anyway.

Author:  Tofulish [ Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:14 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

Thanks for the input! NneJ, thanks for sharing your experience. I agree that the symptoms of lead poisoning can easily be mistaken for other things, but L literally has none of them. She isn't tired or cranky or slow to hit milestones.

Here are our risk factors:
House pre-1980s (mitigated by the fact that we repainted everything but there is some paint chipping in our bedroom).
Husband works with antiques and brings clothes and shoes into the house (along with old furniture though that is in the basement).
No idea if our pipes have lead in them.
Factory near us and we live in Northern NJ which has pretty polluted soil, which my kidlet enjoys eating.

Its funny, but apparently one of the things you can do is to eat less fat and oil, bc Pb is adsorbed best with fat. But don't babies need a lot of fat? We add coconut oil etc to stuff she eats.

I just wish it were as simple as eat well, take Fe and Vit C and you'll be ok.

Author:  sashi [ Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

Tofulish already saw this on Facebook, but it ended up we had some lead on our windowsills and our landlord repainted them two months after we told him about it. Between that and all of the crawling around outside before she started walking (and fingers constantly in the mouth), that was probably the cause of the raised levels. When Ada was rechecked at 15 months the levels were fine.

Littlebear, that's interesting that your friend was told to stop breastfeeding. I didn't think that that much lead ended up in breastmilk. If anything, I would think nursing would be benficial because of the extra iron, vit c, and immunity boost in general that the babies get.

Do the symptoms of lead poisening show up immediately? I'm guessing if one was exposed to lead it would slowly build up in the system so the test would probably help with early detection. Whether or not you get the test though, you might want to check your water if you're not sure if your pipes have lead in them. I know nyc offers a free test kit (although we asked for one and never got it).

As far as the pain of the draw, I don't think there is anyway around that. I didn't know they were drawing from the vein until the nurse came in and told me to sit on the table and hold Ada in my lap facing out. I basically told her there was no way I could hold her still and she told me I was stronger than her and have to keep her arm still. So I did it but there was a lot of kicking and crying. Ugh. It was horrible. And I was not mentally prepared for it. But we went home, she had a nap, and all seemed to be forgotten on her end.

Author:  Ariann [ Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

I agree that watching for signs of lead poisoning is stupid. The testing they do on kids is mostly to check for extremely low "high" levels, way below anything that would result in clinical symptoms, so that you can remediate any issues before it turns into actual poisoning. It takes a long time for the lead to build up in the system if it's coming from a regular environmental source (like eating dust). It's rare to have a one-time exposure result in poisoning.

Tofulish, it sounds like you have a lot of risk factors around (although why house pre-1980s? They stopped using lead paint in like 1950-something on houses - the risk factor sheets they use at doctors only mention houses pre-1960). You can pretty easily test your water to see if your pipes have lead in them. You could probably even test the soil around your house fairly easily. It also sounds like you need to create a "decontamination" space where you come into the house so Brett can take off work clothes/shoes there. It's a good idea in general to take off shoes when you come in so you don't track in soil with lead in it.

Author:  Tofulish [ Sat Nov 10, 2012 10:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

We are pre-1960s too. The fact sheet I read said that lead paint was only outlawed in 1978, though they stopped using it earlier.

And even getting Brett to take his shoes off is a battle. He has been trying to remember to do so, but he doesn't believe me that it really is useful for preventing L getting exposed to lead. I am going to try another communication strategy when he comes back to try and see if I can get him on board with a decontamination zone. The problem is that he runs in and out of the house all day, as he uses it as his home office and doesn't want to do a Silkwood shower every time.

Its funny, he gets so upset that I am putting Leela at risk by going hiking with her where there are ticks, but doesn't see this as a bigger risk. (probably because one requires me to modify my behaviour while the other requires more work on his part /rant)

His reasoning is "if the dog doesn't have to take his paws off when he goes outside, why do I have to take off my shoes?" seriously.

Author:  refinnej [ Sat Nov 10, 2012 4:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

<<eye roll at the dog comment. I can see where it would be really hard with lots of coming and going though.

Kids can easily have slightly elevated levels before showing any symptoms at all, so I think that's why screening became routine, particularly in cities. When I worked in Head Start, something like 80% of our kids showed elevated levels of lead!

Author:  Ariann [ Sat Nov 10, 2012 4:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

We do lots of coming and going and still take our shoes off coming into the house. It's not even about the lead - it's just that we don't want to do as much cleaning! Something like 90% of household dust/dirt is tracked in from outside.

I also just want to say that the numbers since you were working with kids at risk, refinnej, are way, way down and they've been dropping every year. Now barely 10% of urban kids are testing even in these way subclinical levels (and at least part of testing positive is poor diet rather than increased exposure) and in NJ at least, the average rate for all kids is about 2%, and that's including the way higher numbers of urban kids testing positive.

I think screening is routine everywhere because it's a harder sell to just test kids at high risk (because they are often poor and often not white) than to test all kids, even if it might be a huge waste of money.

Author:  refinnej [ Sun Nov 11, 2012 4:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

Ariann, I only worked at one center (In Oklahoma) where it was that high. I think they found later that it was due to some industrial contamination. My kids at the Y (In Grand Rapids) still had pretty high numbers, but still around 20%. They were super high blood levels, just enough that the peds recommendation dietary changes and investigative measures in the home.

I've been reading a bit lately about the cost-benefit analysis conducted by the NHS a few years ago, when determining whether to continue routine screenings. Urgh.

Author:  Tofulish [ Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

Okay, so we just got a notice in the mail that our water has tested positive for lead. Apparently pipes in our area were still made of lead, and they are being replaced, but its not like the PVWater Commission is going to be removing all of them.

We are following the guidelines for water that the PVWC suggests (flushing out the system if water hasn't been used for 2 hours, using cold water to cook, using bottled to drink (the Brita doesn't filter out lead particles)), but I would really appreciate any feed back on how to minimize the impact on a 13 month old. I know they recommend adding Fe and Vit C in, which she gets. Any other thoughts?

Author:  mandycoot [ Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

Are you interested in an under-sink water filter? We have this one and LOVE IT. It filters out lead (we don't have lead issues but we have really, really gross-tasting water that the Brita couldn't help with).

Author:  Tofulish [ Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

I'd love one! But its pretty pricey. I think we'll have our water tested (looks like the kits are under $20) and then decide. It sucks because our pediatrician is out of town and her sub is terrible.

Author:  Ariann [ Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead poisoning

That's an alarming notice! Definitely have your water tested. If you can, also test the soil around your house. And get Leela tested in the meanwhile.

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