Mighty Blog

Lead exposure and how to avoid it: Everything you need to know 

While lead is a naturally occurring metal, it is not one that anyone wants their kids exposed to. Exposure to lead can have negative health effects on kids, and even low levels of lead in the blood can potentially lead to developmental delays or behavioral issues, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Luckily, symptomatic lead exposure is relatively uncommon in the U.S., but it’s still important for parents to know ways to prevent lead exposure from ever becoming an issue. 

Effects of lead on kids 

Lead exposure is associated with many short and long-term health effects including: 

  • Constipation 
  • Developmental delays. 
  • Learning and behavioral problems. 
  • Anemia. 

How kids are exposed to lead 

Unfortunately, lead can still be found in the United States and around the world. Some common ways kids are exposed to lead include: 

  • Lead-contaminated foods. People can be exposed to lead by eating or ingesting contaminated food. Stay up to date on recalls to make sure your pantry isn’t stocked with foods that are contaminated. For example, in November 2023, a recall was issued for some cinnamon applesauce pouches 
  • Lead paint. Lead-based paints were officially banned in the U.S. in 1978. But homes built before then might have lead-based paint. The danger here is if lead paint chips off and little kids swallow them or breathe in the dust.  
  • Lead-glazed pottery. If you’ve bought pottery from a different country and aren’t sure if it contains lead, avoid using it to prepare/cook food. Look for ‘food safe’ pottery instead. 
  • Lead pipes. Some old plumbing systems in Minnesota and other states may contain lead. To avoid lead contamination, make sure to use cold water to prepare food or formula, as hot water can leach more lead. Also run the water frequently.  
  • Lead bullets and lead sinkers. If you’re fishing or hunting, make sure to avoid lead bullets or sinkers because these can lead to more contamination in the environment 

Lead screening 

One important way to ensure your child is safe from lead exposure is through your regular well-child check with your pediatrician. In Minnesota, well-child checks at ages 1 and 2 include blood screening for lead levels. Your health care provider will let you know if any traces of lead are found and help you with next steps to make sure your family is safe. 

Schedule a well-child check at Children’s Minnesota today. 

Dina Elrashidy