Lead poisoning affects children between the ages of 0 to 6 years old. During this period, children experience rapid brain development and may still have some of behaviors that contribute to lead poisoning, such as picking up paint chips, putting their hands and other objects in their mouths, and not washing their hands often enough. Although lead can impact virtually every system in the body, the brain and other parts of the nervous system are especially vulnerable. Some of the health problems caused by lead poisoning may never go away.
Lead in a Child's Body Can:
- Slow down growth and development
- Lower IQ and be associated with poorer performance in school.
- Damage hearing and speech.
- Cause behavior problems that may be severe enough that a child is placed in special education classrooms.
- Make it difficult to pay attention and learn.
- Lead to headaches.
- Cause anemia.
A 2015 ODH study reported that as many as 65 percent of children at risk for lead poisoning in the City of Cleveland were not screened for blood-lead levels.
The symptoms of lead poisoning are often vague and not definitive. Children with lead poisoning have been incorrectly diagnosed as autistic and are often viewed as candidates for special education. They may leave school early, are less likely to graduate, and have higher rates of incarceration than other comparable groups.