After being ingested, lead enters the bloodstream and is absorbed and stored in many tissues and organs in the body, including the liver, kidneys, brain, teeth and bones.
High levels of lead can cause serious health problems in your children. Lead poisoning can affect almost every organ system of the body, including:
- brain and central nervous system, causing:
- lower IQs
- memory problems
- reduced coordination
- learning disabilities
- increased sleeping
- decreased activity and fatigue
- hearing loss
- slow reflexes
- muscle weakness, affecting mainly the upper extremities
- seizures, coma, hypertension in high levels
- gastrointestinal system, causing:
- abdominal pain
- poor appetite
- weight loss
- blood system, causing anemia or low blood counts
- kidney problems
- reproductive system, causing:
- premature birth
- low birth weight
If your child has any of these symptoms of lead poisoning and he is at risk for lead exposure then you should see your doctor immediately. Most children with lead poisoning do not have any symptoms, so if your child is at risk you should still have him tested even if he is not having any problems.
Some effects of lead poisoning, such as poor school performance because of a low IQ, do not show up until a child is much older, at which time they will probably have a normal lead level, and so may not be attributed to lead poisoning.