Pediatric Lead Poisoning
Lead poisoning is a health concern that can effect children of all socioeconomic backgrounds. It has been an issue for many years and instances of lead poisoning can be found throughout history in every country. Children under the age of six years of age and pregnant women are most at risk for lead poisoning (Lead Home, EPA. gov/lead). Lead can cause serious health problems if consumed. It is more common for lead to slowly build up in the body over time from repeated exposure to small amounts of it.
Lead is much more harmful to children than adults because it affects the developing brains and nerves of children. It is estimated that 1 in every 20 kids have too much lead in their blood (Lead Home, EPA. gov/lead). Victims of lead poisoning may suffer a lowered IQ, difficulty sleeping, and brain damage. Lead poisoning and its affects are preventable with the proper education and testing. Here, I will discuss two articles on the subject of pediatric lead poisoning, some aspects presented in each that could be positive and negative influences on a child’s health and then offer some of my own opinions.
The first article, A Review of a Preventable Poison: Pediatric Lead Poisoning, is a basic overview of the history, routes of exposure, pathophisiology, excretion, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options for lead poisoning. This article also lends a lot of time to different levels of prevention that a nurse can be involved in. The general point of this article is that lead poisoning is preventable and no child should have this exposure. The prevention tactics are broken up into primary, secondary, and tertiary aspects.
The primary prevention is explained as “.. working to inform the public about common sources of lead (Erikson, 178)”. This is aimed at children who have lead levels under 10 but who are still considered at risk. This type of prevention is geared toward education of the parents and emphasizing the importance of decontamination of the sources of lead. They encourage hand washing and cleaning of window sills, especially in older communities. Primary prevention is focused on the local health department and school corporation to encourage these changes.
Secondary prevention is explained as testing the children and traditional pharmaceutical therapy. The tertiary prevention is something that the article claims is commonly overlooked – follow-up care. And this means a follow-up with any child that has an elevated lead level, no matter if it is a toxic level. The second article entitled, An Academic-Community Outreach Partnership: Building Relationships and Capacity to Address Childhood Lead Poisoning, discusses the importance of collaborating with the many different levels of lead poisoning prevention groups.
There are neighborhood, school, township, city, county, state, national and academic groups all trying to prevent pediatric lead poisoning but are not properly working together. The objective of this collaboration is to “… translate science and best practices into social action and policy change… (Serrell, 1)”. This article did not focus on the science of lead poisoning but the social aspects that went along with the screening and care of lead poisoned children.
In the Review of a Preventable Poison, there is one major negative aspect that is pointed out that could very easily negatively effect a child’s health. It is said in the article that follow-up tests in children who are positive for lead are only done about half of the time. On top of that, children who are at an even higher risk for lead poisoning, such as Hispanic and non-White children living in urban areas, are followed up on less often than White children (Erikson, 181). The Academic – Community Outreach article had even more disturbing news about the basics of lead testing.
In this article, the authors outlined a defective system, with too much bureaucracy that is almost incapable of working with other sources to achieve a common goal. A positive aspect in the Review of a Preventable Poison is that it gives the power to the nurses in pushing what the author considers is the most important prevention technique – education. Working closely with a child who is positive for lead is stressed at the nurses’ role. Referrals for free lead poisoning prevention programs and information for preventing further lead exposure is all placed in the nurses’ hands to give to their patients.
In Academic – Community Outreach, the outlook seemed gloomy from the beginning. But, important positive aspects were realized through this article/experiment. The largest lesson learned was that these collaborations with science and community outreach programs need to keep the idea of performing tasks “with the community” and not just “for the community” (Serrell, 5). Taking action along with parents, political figures and concerned citizens can create a sense of community and understanding of a specific goal.
The authors of this article all agreed that once a common goal was established, projects were accomplished and moral improved greatly between the different lead poisoning groups. Each of these articles accomplished very different goals in their text. The Review of a Preventable Poison article was written very well for someone who possible knew very little about lead poisoning. It gave historical references and would be a good resource for any adult who wanted to learn about lead poisoning. Though, this article gave little idea about what is to be done about the problem.
The authors suggest introducing a mandatory reporting system between hospitals and the local health department but that is the only unique suggestion it had. In the article, Academic – Community Outreach, the authors dug six feet deep, under all the ‘typical’ lead poisoning chatter and really tried to find the underbelly to the still problematic pediatric lead poising. Lead poisoning of children stirs many emotions and when emotions are mixed with bureaucracy, it seems little gets accomplished.
This article tried to change how lead prevention groups look at the problem as well as how the approach the solution. For additional information on pediatric lead poisoning, go to: Indiana Department of Health http://www. in. gov/isdh/19154. htm Improving Kids’ Environment Coalition http://www. ikecoalition. org/ Lead Free Kids http://leadfreekids. org/ Works Cited Erickson, Lori, and Teri Thompson. “A Review of a Preventable Poison: Pediatric Lead Poisoning. ” Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing 10. 4 (2005): 171-82. Print. Lead Home | Lead in Paint, Dust, and Soil | US EPA. ” US Environmental Protection Agency. Web. 20 Sept. 2011. . Serrell, Nancy, Rosemary M. Caron, Bethany Fleishman, and Emily D. Robbins. “An Academic-Community Outreach Partnership: Building Relationships and Capacity to Address Childhood Lead Poisoning. ” National Institutes of Health Public Access. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2009. Web. 29 Sept. 2011. . Wong, Donna L. , Marilyn J. Hockenberry, and David Wilson. Wong’s Nursing Care of Infants and Children. St. Louis, MO: Mosby/Elsevier, 2011. Print.