The effects of lead contamination on fetal brain development

Continuous exposure will fix lead to the bone in areas where the most growth is occurring. The half life of lead in the blood is 35 days, it remains in soft tissue for 40 days and is then stored in the bones for 20 or 30 years (Cullen et al, pg 9).
The lead levels may not reflect an accurate count of the total lead in the system as lead is released when calcium declines and soldiers with shrapnel wounds may have resurfacing lead return to the bloodstream. Lead exposure can happen in some unusual ways such as having consumed homemade liquor or moonshine or from chewing on an imported toy. 90% of ingested lead is eliminated unabsorbed (Cullen et al pg 10).
Children are also more susceptible to lead poisoning as they have less bone density than adults and thus the lead remains stored in soft tissues producing toxic effects (Cullen et al, pg 10). Osteoporosis can also lead to elevated blood levels as the decreased calcium releases the lead back to blood and soft tissue.
"The effects of lead poisoning on the brain are manifold and include delayed or reversed development, learning disabilities, seizures, coma and even death (Marcus, pg 2). Adults with lead poisoning suffer from depression, aggression, low sperm counts and underweight babies. The problem is world wide and crosses all economic backgrounds with greater percentages in poor areas.
The numbers of lead poisoning cases in children has declined over the decades since lead paint was banned and plumbing codes have been updated, however, it remains a concern for low income families living in older buildings in need of renovation. The pregnant women could absorb lead through the water supply and if…
Lead contamination is not a phenomenon of the past and lead poisoning in newborns and young children still prevails. Old buildings are filled with outdated plumbing and leaded paint, parents work in lead related occupations and cultural traditions often use lead tainted home remedies.Through education and case management the Maternal Child nurse can use his/her role to prevent and provide early detection and treatment in lead poisoning. Lead poisoning is the most serious chronic environmental illness affecting children in spite of interventions to prevent it and cases of lead poisoning still present at hospitals and clinics in the twenty-first century. The Maternal Child nurse can aid the childbearing family with physical assessments, teaching self care and nutrition, environmental assessments, family teaching and fetal assessment. The guidance offered during the pregnancy and post partum newborn period can serve to prevent unnecessary exposure and absorption of lead. Parents can be made aware of the risks of lead exposure and the importance of early intervention and treatment for the child. While lead products are still being produced, many older buildings have outdated plumbing and ethnic products may contain lead, the Maternal Child nurse can offer services and support to decrease the numbers of poor children with lead poisoning. Monitoring of the home environment, education and case management can ensure that fewer babies are born with impaired brain functions leading to a life time of physical and behavior problems.