There is a fairly wide range of symptoms for lead poisoning.  Lead poisoning can also be classified as “acute” or “chronic.” Most importantly, a child (or adult for that matter) can be poisoned and exhibit no immediate symptoms at all. Since there are many online resources with lists of possible symptoms, I have posted links to some of those below (instead of reinventing the wheel.)   Here is a link to a page that discusses the symptoms my children have had since their exposure.

One point I do want to stress is that symptoms
can be easily mistaken for something else and misdiagnosed.  Our children were misdiagnosed for two months before I finally insisted on a full battery of tests to try and determine what was wrong with them (they had acute poisoning with severe physical symptoms that were similar to the flu with no fever.)  The doctor threw a lead test in among the other tests being done and that was the only test that came out positive.

Many studies theorize that a child’s blood lead level can drop significantly after the initial exposure.  Some say the drop can be by halves each month (so if the initial exposure is 50, one month later it might be 25 and one month later again it might be 12.5)  While this was not my personal experience in observing my children’s blood lead levels once I got them tested, there is no way of knowing what their initial blood lead level was.  IF this theory is true - Avi could have started (with his initial exposure from inhaling lead fumes from the open flame torch burning process to remove the old lead paint off our home to prepare it for painting) with a blood lead level as high as 64.  This would have brought him to a BLL of 32 one month later and, by the time we finally convinced the doctor to test him (even though he did not fit her demographic for an “at-risk” child ... EVEN though we lived in a pre-1978 home that had just been repainted!) it was two months later and he tested positive with a BLL 16.

The only way to know for sure (if your child has been exposed OR what the source of the exposure is) is to get your child tested (with a venous draw blood test - or perhaps with the new saliva test I recently read about that is getting some press for being equally accurate and less invasive/ traumatic) right as they begin to crawl (or if they are older and have not been tested yet - call your doctor and get them tested today.)  If they test negative (or a very low positive) you will then (at least) have a reference point if you test them again (which you should at least annually until they are at least 6 years old) and they test positive.  A reference point will help you to determine the time frame of the exposure (if it happens) and the possible source of the exposure.  You will then be able to eliminate the source of exposure to help protect your child and keep them healthy / lead- free.


© 2009. Tamara Rubin,  All Rights Reserved