DENVER - A blood-screening event scheduled for Wednesday is hoping to help raise awareness and identify children at risk of lead poisoning.
The screening involves a simple finger-stick blood test and results are immediate.
To help reduce the risk of lead exposure in children, Denver Environmental Health's Public Health Inspections Division is hosting free blood lead screening for children seven and under on Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Clinica Tepeyac at 5075 Lincoln St.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, at least 4 million households (75,000 in Colorado) have children who are potentially at risk of lead poisoning from deteriorated lead-based paint. Children with elevated levels of lead are at risk of suffering long term, irreversible health problems. Since most children with lead poisoning do not look or act sick and symptoms are not obvious, a blood test is the only way to know if your child has elevated levels of lead.
What should you know about lead?
- If you live in a house built before 1978, the paint may contain lead.
- Deteriorated lead based paint on your walls, doors, windows and sills may be dangerous.
How do kids get lead from paint?
The leading cause of childhood lead poisoning in the U.S. today is the ingestion of lead-based paint and the associated contaminated dust and soil found in or around older houses. Children get lead in their bodies when they put lead objects in their mouths, especially if they swallow the lead object. They can also get lead poison on their fingers from touching a dusty or peeling lead object, and then putting their fingers in their mouths or eating food afterward.
If lead poisoning is found from the tests, what help is available to kids?
Additional information will be given out during the testing regarding resources available for families. However, if a child tests positive, it is pertinent that parents and caregivers take their children to their primary physician to discuss further testing and treatment options. Families with children with elevated blood lead levels may be eligible for an in-home assessment to find the source of lead.
What are the damages from lead poisoning - specifically what kind of health problems and are they life-long?
Lead poisoning often occurs with no obvious symptoms, so it frequently goes unrecognized. Young children under the age of 6 are most at risk of becoming lead poisoned. Because children are growing and their brains are developing so rapidly, even low levels of lead can potentially cause permanent brain and nervous system damage, learning and behavioral problems, and result in lower IQ. Other symptoms of lead poisoning may include headaches, stomachaches, nausea, tiredness and irritability. There have been some rare cases of lead poisoning causing convulsions, coma and even death.
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