Travis Hobart, MD, is medical director of the Central/Eastern New York Lead Poisoning Resource Center and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Upstate
Prevention is best defense again lead poisoning
When children ingest lead, it can cause a range of problems, including anemia and brain damage that can permanently affect their ability to learn and pay attention. Affected children may not show obvious symptoms at low levels, explains Travis Hobart, MD, the medical director of the Central/Eastern New York Lead Poisoning Resource Center at Upstate. The chief source of lead ingestion is lead paint, banned from consumer use in the U.S. since 1978 but still found in older homes. Children can put lead paint chips in their mouths or breathe lead paint dust, and other sources of lead also exist, explains Hobart, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Upstate. The key is prevention, he says, noting a New York state requirement that all children get a blood test for lead at 1 and 2 years, and a new Syracuse law requiring landlords to resolve problems with lead paint. The resource center offers a variety of information about lead poisoning and prevention.