The parents of a 9-month-old baby from Connecticut USA received a shock of their lives. According to a report, they took their daughter to a routine screening. Turns out, she had dangerously high levels of lead in her blood. The source of the lead poisoning – a homemade Homoeopathic teething bracelet they had purchased at a local fair!
The source was traced
According to the CDC field report, The 9-month-old baby had blood levels of 41 μg/dL (levels exceeding 5 μg/dL are abnormal). The family lived in an old house.And so the house was checked for possible sources of lead poisoning.
They initially checked for the usual suspect – paint. Children have a habit of licking paint and this puts close to children living with 4 million families at a danger of lead poisoning annually in the USA. There was lead-based paint peeling from 2 windows, but they were inaccessible to the child. Moreover, the other two children had blood lead levels at less than 3μg/dL. So, the cause was limited to this baby alone.
They next turned their attention to a bracelet the baby was wearing. Turns out, it had small metallic spacers to separate the beads. And these spacers tested positive for lead at a level of 17,000 parts per million. The permissible level of lead in anything for a child is just 100 parts per million!
The parents confessed that they had no clue about the dangerous nature of the bracelet. An artisan at a local fair sold them this homemade “homoeopathic magnetic hematite healing bracelet” to ease their baby’s teething pains. Sadly, this is not the first time a teething remedy has lead to some sort of poisoning in a baby.
Photo/Kimberly Dubanoski, Manchester Health Department, Connecticut
Lead is commonly found in things meant for kids
According to the Center for Disease Control, USA,
Cases of severe lead poisoning and death were linked to lead-containing charms and jewelry marketed to children in 2003 and 2006, resulting in large-scale recalls. In 2010, the Consumer Product Commission set the limit of lead content in items manufactured and marketed for children at 100 ppm. This standard results in numerous recalls of children’s jewelry each year.
Sadly, this is not the first time a teething remedy has lead to some sort of poisoning in a baby. Just recently, the CDC put a ban on Homoeopathic teething pills as they contained dangerous levels of Belladonna – an extract from the deadly nightshade. Belladonna can lead to acute poisoning in children and can have fatal consequences.
Lead is one of the naturally occurring metals on the Earth. It was once used widely in plumbing since ancient times, leading to low levels of lead poisoning in humans. When this was discovered, other materials substituted it, but by then, the damage was done. It had entered the soil. Then, it entered the plants, and finally, in human bodies. Even the petrol used to contain lead, and it caused similar polluting effects.
Lead can have disastrous effects on the human body. Prolonged exposure and high levels of lead in the blood can cause anaemia, weakness, brain and kidney damage and even death. It can cross the placental barrier in pregnant women causing brain damage to the growing foetus. Sadly, it can also lead to miscarriages and stillbirths.
But, that is not all. There have been cases where parents came home with lead dust on their clothes from work and their children were poisoned by lead.
Measures against lead poisoning
The good thing is, governments are taking efforts to minimise an exposure of lead to children. The major source of lead still paints from old houses, possibly built and painted before 1950, followed by contaminated soil. So here are 4 things you can do to reduce the exposure of lead to your child.
- Choose a lead-free paint. If your house has been painted before the 1950s, see to it that there is no peeling paint, either on the walls, doors or windows.
- Mop the floors regularly. Lead is present in the industrial and vehicular exhaust. This enters our houses and settles down on the floors and furniture. So, mop your house and vacuum the furniture as frequently as you can.
- Use sandboxes for your child to play in. The soil is again a source of lead poisoning. So if you can, limit the play time of young children (who may eat the soil) in the soil. Instead, create a sandbox at home. And cover it in order to prevent animals from littering in it.
- Screen routinely. It is recommended that children should have their blood tested for lead before they turn 2. It is particularly important if the siblings have been diagnosed and treated for lead poisoning.
And for the sake of your children, do not buy them something that comes without a label. For teething, rub their gums using your fingers 2-3 times a day. Give them frozen bagel or carrot sticks to chew on. This is much safer.
Also, read Study finds 1 in 5 baby foods contains lead, including ‘organic food’!