PHS Working to Lower Blood Lead Levels

PHS Working with Families and Health Care Providers to Lower Blood Lead Levels in Children with Lead Poisoning

In recent months, PHS has received funding from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to educate the public about the harmful effects of lead and to work with families and health care providers to lower blood lead levels in children with lead poisoning. According to public health nurse, Kate Lange, RN, BSN, “Protecting children from exposure to lead is important to life-long good health. There is no known identified safe blood lead level. Exposure to lead can seriously harm a child’s health and increase their risk for damage to the brain and nervous system, slowed growth and development, learning and behavior problems, and hearing and speech problems.

Health care providers routinely test children for lead poisoning at 12 and 24 months of age. When a child’s blood lead level is 5 ug/dL or higher, actions to both help prevent further exposure to lead and to lower the amount of lead in the blood are started. The new grant funding allows for a community health worker (CHW) to contact parents and provide education on:

* possible sources of lead in the child’s environment,

* the importance of a healthy diet high in calcium, iron, and vitamin c,

* cleaning methods to decrease lead in the home,

* the importance of good hand washing, especially before meals, and

* guidelines for repeat testing

In addition, a public health nurse collaborates with:

* the child’s primary care provider to assure follow-up testing is done on time, and

* the DHHS Lead Poisoning Program to schedule a home inspection for children with blood lead levels of 10 ug/dL or higher.

“We are excited to work with families and to teach the public about the harmful effects of lead”, says Jennifer Banos, CHW with the PHS Lead Program.

To learn more about lead poisoning prevention, contact Jennifer Banos, or Kate Lange, at 402-826-3880 or go to www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/