The County of San Diego kicked off a campaign Monday to raise awareness of a childhood illness that often goes undetected — lead poisoning.
The county designated the week of Oct. 25-31 as “Prevent Childhood Lead Poisoning: Learn Where Lead Can Be” as part of California Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.
The campaign is designed to raise awareness of children’s elevated risk of becoming sick with lead poisoning, which often goes undetected or unrecognized despite being one of the most common environmental illnesses among California youngsters, according to the county.
In 2012, more than 1,000 children and young adults under 21 in San Diego County had elevated blood lead levels, according to the California Department of Public Health.
“We want to remind parents that lead poisoning can be detrimental to young children’s health and development, and it’s important that they ask their children’s doctor about lead testing,”said Wilma Wooten, San Diego County’s public health officer.
Wooten said the only way to identify and confirm lead poisoning in children is through a blood test.
Most children who have lead poisoning don’t look or act sick and symptoms can be confused with common childhood complaints such as stomach aches, headaches, crankiness or loss of appetite, according to CDPH. Even low levels of lead in blood are shown to have a significant impact — affecting IQ, the ability to pay attention and academic achievement.
Children can be exposed to lead through lead-based paint, lead- contaminated dust and soil and through certain imported ceramic pottery, painted objects and imported candy and food products.
The county’s Health and Human Services program will have informational displays on childhood lead poisoning at all county regional public health centers. HHS will also make presentations to healthcare providers and community groups to raise awareness about the illness.
For more information on the campaign, go to www.sdlead.org.
—City News Service