Infant's lead poisoning : screening strategies

Reinforcing prevention

Are all children affected when lead poisoning is detected?

Even if a strong reduction in the levels of lead in the blood of tested children is noticed, children still due from lead poisoning (blood lead higher than 100 µg/l) each year in the UK. Sources of intoxication are still very present in the environment of the children especially in old premises. Even if the level of lead in the blood is lower than 100 ?g/l, it is necessary to decrease the exposure to lead of the entire population and in particular the most vulnerable: young children and pregnant women (lead toxicity for the fetus).

Systematically associate screening and reduction of exposure

If there is an intervention on unhealthy environment to decrease the risk of exposure, there must be simultaneously a strategy of screening. There will be a serious check that during this work there is no exposure to lead.

Optimise tools for screening populations who have a high risk of exposure

  • Locate the geographical areas with strong exposure to lead in people's habitat thanks to maps and shared files and addresses of people presenting risks
  • Identify old industrial sites polluted by lead.
  • Chart the units of water supply which present a risk of exposure to lead.
  • Know better the situation of exposures related to cultural practices (traditional cosmetic, artisanal products...)

Draw awareness and inform health professionals

  • Help professionals use the tools at their disposal.
  • Put at the disposal of doctors, all the information concerning the zones and addresses at risk (precise cartography), for a systematic location of risk factors of lead poisoning.
  • Draw the awareness of doctors exercising in a zone regularly at risk and set up actions of systematic screening when it is justified.
  • To inform the doctors on the types of risks of exposure other than premises and water: children of exposed workers to lead, children coming from a country where they can be exposed, etc

Use as best as possible official reports of risk of exposure to lead

Draw awareness and inform the families

The work group recommends a large national campaign of information through different media.

The goal:
  • To draw awareness to the risk run by people living in an old habitat.
  • Inform them of the existing means to avoid exposure (vigilant maintenance of painted surfaces, convenient ways to check the presence of lead, precautions to be taken during work...).

If the presence of lead is noted during a diagnosis, the work group requires a control of the information of the occupants by the owners.
  • To develop a total health strategy

Infant's lead poisoning and more generally over-exposure to lead, cannot be dissociated from other health problems encountered by the concerned populations, often in precarious situations.

Fighting against lead poisoning must be included in a fight plan against insalubrity, a step which would profit other fields (medical and social.) ?

Small reminder on lead poisoning: stressed at the end of the 1980s, intoxication of children by lead (primarily by the ingestion of lead containing paint flakes or dust) has been listed for almost ten years among the list of the diseases to be compulsory declared.


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