Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Public agencies and medical doctors (OB-GYNs?) are really missing the boat in terms of both education AND early prevention of childhood lead poisoning.

While there are some public initiatives to provide financial aid to pregnant women for Blood Lead Level testing, once they are pregnant it is TOO late - that fetus already has been exposed if the mother tests positive!

I’d like to see testing recommended for ALL WOMEN OF CHILDBEARING AGE.  This would provide an amazing opportunity. Women would ask “why are you testing me for this?” BEFORE they become pregnant. They would then learn about childhood lead poisoning and how it could effect their baby (as a health-based issue, not a housing-based issue) BEFORE they consider having a baby. 

Think of what a a powerful vector for developing awareness this might constitute , and what consequent change it could bring about in the world!

Just as the routine use of the papsmear test has sharply reduced the incidence of cervical cancer (and the related high rate of death in women as a result) - asking women to get a routine lead-test every time they get a papsmear would  (1) not add a huge burden to the medical community or the women (they are already at a doctor’s appointment, already having labs done and getting poked and prodded) AND (2) create a substantial cost savings (in prevented childhood illness) by allowing women to CHOOSE to proactively safeguard the critical internal environment for their future baby prior to becoming pregnant.

This could be significant for women in the construction, crafts and resale trades that do not even realize the dangers of their professional exposure to lead.  It would also serve as a way to identify contaminated homes BEFORE a child is introduced into the environment (as some women will have high blood lead levels as a result of work they have been doing on their homes.)

Why are we waiting until women are pregnant? And WHY (I just don’t understand this one) is the action blood lead level for a pregnant woman BLL 20 when her unborn child has a BLL of 80% to 100% of the mother’s BLL and therefore an expectant mother with a BLL of 20 would have an unborn child with a BLL of 16 to 20—poisoned by any standard and completely unacceptable!

I started thinking about this last year when I was pregnant with Charlie (born 7/2008). As soon as I have a moment I will also post the story of my pregnancy related lead experience this time around.

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© 2009. Tamara Rubin,  All Rights Reserved