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Lead poisoning is hazardous to children

Children face many dangers while playing, including lead poisoning.

Through a grant from Mississippi State Department of Health Delores Rocque with Family First is planning to teach parents, care givers, and home remodelers about what to look for in and around the home that could potentially cause lead poisoning.

Sources of lead poisoning in children under the age of six include soil, children’s jewelry, water from lead pipes and paint in houses built before 1978, Rocque said. Other sources include glazed pottery, some electrical cords, garden hoses, imported vinyl or plastic mini blinds purchased before 1997, keys, batteries, imported canned foods and outside water faucets, according to http://www.healthyms.com/msdhsite/_static/41,0,176.html.

Signs of lead poisoning include unexplained seizures, learning problems, nausea, growth failure, behavior disorders, irritability and hearing loss, according to the same site.

Elder David Simmons with Rose of Sharon Church said that side effects could include low attention span and lowered I.Q. testing scores.

Usually parents find something is wrong with their child and go about treating symptoms without first finding out the cause, Rocque said.

“It’s something we need to make the county aware of,” Rocque said.

The effort in Picayune and Pearl River County is aimed to change Pearl River County’s current status as having the lowest rate of tested children in the nation, currently only eight percent, she said.

“Lead poisoning is totally preventable,” Simmons said.

In addition to eliminating exposure to lead, children can be protected by eating a diet rich in calcium, vitamin C and iron, he said. The website states that good vitamin sources include milk, oranges, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, bread, cereal and meat. These foods help to clean the body of lead, Simmons said.

Currently, a task force is being assembled to help approach situations in which lead is found, Rocque said. Hurricane Katrina has had an effect on the effort because the demolition and remodeling of homes damaged by the storm could put children at a higher risk of lead poisoning, he said.

“People need to be aware that children will put things in their mouth and get sick,” Rocque said.

The Center for Disease Control lists lead poisoning as the most controllable disease, but it is still dangerous, Simmons said. By the year 2010, the CDC plans to have lead poisoning eradicated from the United States, Simmons said.

Presentations are slated to be held at Picayune Head Start and Early Head Start, Picayune Housing Authority, McCarty Learning Center and other child care providers and care centers county wide, Rocque said.

Those interested in participating in the lead poisoning task force can contact Rocque at 601-798-0230.

If a parent suspects a child has lead poisoning, they should take them to be checked out by a physician. If the child is on Medicaid, they can take the child to Acorn Pediatrics on Sixth Ave., Picayune Health Services on Miss. 43 or Poplarville Clinic located on Main St., Rocque said.

If the child has medical insurance or is on the Children Health Insurance Program, they should be taken to their physician. If the child has no insurance, the parent should consider applying for CHIP. More information on lead poisoning can be found by calling 1-866-458-4948. Information on CHIP can be found at http://www.hhsc.state.tx.us/chip/index.html.