We never want to imagine the things we keep in our home can harm our children. But the reality is many consumer products aren’t made with our kids’ safety in mind.
A recent study tested the blood of over 1 million children and found that more than half of them had detectable levels of lead in their blood. (1)
Why is this so alarming?
Lead can cause serious, long-term harm to young kiddos because they’re still developing. Even the smallest trace in the bloodstream can affect them. No amount of lead in the body is safe.
My purpose is NOT to scare you, but to empower you with this knowledge. So you can keep lead on your radar and confidently make decisions to protect your child.
With that being said…
Here’s what you need to know:
The Health Effects of Lead Exposure in Kids
The danger with lead is: mere exposure is unsafe. While small traces of lead in the body may not cause lead poisoning, it can still seriously affect your child’s health.
Potential health effects of lead exposure in children include:
- damage to the brain and nervous system
- slowed growth and development
- issues with learning and behavior
- hearing and speech problems (2)
There’s no denying that it’s scary to think about the effects lead can have on our kids. BUT here’s the good news: there are many things you can do as a parent to reduce your child’s exposure.
It starts with knowing what products contain lead.
Where Can Lead Be Hiding?
When you think about lead exposure, what comes to mind? I think for most people, it’s paint. And while at one point paint was perhaps the most common cause of lead poisoning, lead-based paint is thankfully being used less and less.
Here are hidden lead sources that pose a danger to kids today:
- Toys: Imported and older, antique toys are the most likely to contain lead.
- Jewelry: Play jewelry is a common source of lead, along with other harmful chemicals.
- Plastic: The use of lead in plastics has not been banned.
- Drinking water: Lead can and does enter our drinking water through pipes and other plumbing materials.
- Lead-based paint: Homes that haven’t received a fresh paint job in the past few decades may be coated with lead-based paint.
Ingesting lead is harmful. So, the danger isn’t exactly in your 5-year-old wearing a plastic bracelet, but in the bracelet entering their mouth. Which as you know mama – once it’s in their hands, it’s hard to keep it out of their mouth.
Signs and Symptoms of Lead Poisoning in Kids
Most children who have been exposed to lead show little to no signs or symptoms, unless they have been exposed repeatedly and have high levels in the body.
Possible symptoms of lead poisoning to look out for include:
- Learning problems
- Urinary incontenence
- Recurring infections
- Anemia (3)
If you think your child has been exposed to lead, reach out to your trusted pediatrician immediately for a blood test. The sooner you know, the faster you can identify and remove the lead source from your home.
What to Do About Lead: Prevention, Testing, and Treatment
The #1 thing you can do to prevent lead exposure in your child is to eliminate potential lead sources from your home.
I know this can feel overwhelming given the world we live in.
What if it’s in our water?
Try not to make yourself sick with worry, mama. Just take action. Avoiding lead exposure is 100% possible.
Here’s what I recommend doing to keep your child safe:
Take preventative measures
- Use water filters in your home – drinking tap, sink, and shower.
Once these are installed, you won’t have to worry about your water again! It can feel like a lot if you’ve never installed a filter in your shower before, but mamas tell me it’s a huge relief knowing their kiddo’s bath water is clean. Hydroviv is an excellent brand I recommend.
- Make a point to use lead-free paint.
Lead-based paints are used less frequently today. But if you are doing a paint project in your home, Google can be your best friend here. Do a search for “lead-free” paint – you’ll get a list of safe options.
- Be mindful of the toys your child plays with.
Does this mean your child can never play with a toy again? Of course not! But I do recommend being mindful of the toys your toddler plays with.
Products that are most likely to contain lead include imported and older, antique toys. You can avoid this by shopping locally and ethically-made toys.
- Avoid plastics.
Swap plastics for glass wherever possible: containers, water bottles, everything. It’s wonderful for the environment and your child’s well-being!
The best way to know if your child has been exposed to lead is to test. This will give you peace of mind. If your child does have detectable levels of lead, you can take immediate steps towards treatment.
As a naturopathic pediatrician, I follow screening guidelines and recommend finger stick blood testing when babies and children have a suspected exposure. In older children, I suggest urine testing.
If lead has been in the system for a long time, it leaves the bloodstream and gets stored in the body. Urine testing will detect lead, and other heavy metals, when blood testing often misses it.
Eliminate lead from the body
What can you do if your child has been exposed to lead? Feed them a healthy, whole foods diet (rich in vitamin C, calcium, and iron) and do a detox bath regularly. (4) These are gentle and effective ways to help remove lead from the body.
Chelating supplements can be utilized in children who are older, and physically strong enough to handle them. Proper chelation requires multiple rounds of testing. I do not recommend self-chelating. You can cause more harm to your child by mobilizing lead back into the bloodstream and not eliminating it correctly.
Please consult with your trusted naturopathic pediatrician to develop the best treatment plan for your child based on their unique health needs.
Information is Power
Many mamas tell me they feel overwhelmed when they learn about all the things in their home that can harm their child’s health. Understandably so. You’re not alone. But I want you to know you don’t have to live in fear.
You have a ton of control over your child’s exposure to lead (and most chemicals that lead to chronic illness), which is empowering. The problem is… no one tells us this stuff.
I want you to have all the information. Now that you do, you can do something about it.
If you want more guidance navigating how to best protect your child in a toxic world, sign up for the 5 module group health series called: Minimize Harm: How to prevent Chronic illness in your Family.
This kid-centered program gives health-minded parents the tools to prevent chronic illness in their family.
There are 2 main contributors to all health issues: toxicity and deficiency
Most of the time… It’s toxicity.
I invite you to spend a few weeks with me, and learn simple things you can do every day to minimize harm to your kids. We’ll meet once weekly online for a short learning and coaching session.
Doesn’t coaching sound nice? No more guessing, you’ll finally have people on your side holding your hand.
And you can ask those burning questions you have about your kids’ specific needs.
Here’s the schedule:
- Week 0: Individual meet & greet w/ Dr. Lindsay to get familiar with your particular concerns so she can tailor the course material to help you.
- Week 1: preview of the course, overview of toxic people and places.
- Week 2: food and water, needs by age, strategies for picky eaters
- Week 3: daily detox strategies to breathe easy and sleep better
- Week 4: supplemental that detox kids, the right way
- Week 5: toxic tech: create discipline w/ media
- Follow up: individual follow up with Dr. Lindsay to answer final questions and help you with your way forward
Together, we can raise naturally healthy children.