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Alternative NamesLead poisoning - nutritional considerations; Toxic metal - nutritional considerations
Definition Return to top
Nutritional considerations to reduce the risk of lead poisoning.
Function Return to top
Lead is a natural element with thousands of uses. Because it is widespread (and often hidden) lead can easily contaminate food and water where it is undetectable to the eye or taste.
Food Sources Return to top
Lead can be found in canned goods if there is lead solder in the cans. Lead may also be found in other some containers. See: Cooking utensils and nutrition
Old paint poses the greatest danger for lead poisoning, especially in young children. Tap water from lead pipes or pipes with lead solder is also a source of hidden lead. For more information, see: Lead poisoning disease
Side Effects Return to top
High doses of lead can damage the nervous system, kidneys, and blood system and can even be lethal. Continuous low-level exposure causes lead to accumulate in the body and cause damage. It is particularly dangerous for babies, before and after birth, and for small children, because their bodies and brains are growing rapidly.
Many federal agencies study and monitor lead exposure. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitors lead in food, beverages, food containers, and tableware. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitors lead levels in drinking water.
Recommendations Return to top
Other important recommendations:
References Return to top
Markowitz M. Lead poisoning. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 709.
Velez LI, Delaney KA. Heavy metals. In: Marx J, ed. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 6th ed. St Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2006:chap 155.Update Date: 3/9/2009 Updated by: Linda Vorvick, MD, Family Physician, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.