Lancaster Physician Fall 2021 - 9

FALL 2021
lead hazards in at least 2,800 high-risk local
homes over the next decade.
" Lead in the home is a serious and dangerous
health issue - especially for young
children and mothers-to-be, " said Jeffrey R.
Martin, MD, Chair, Department of Family
and Community Medicine, Lancaster General
Hospital. " By working together with our
community partners, we can help bring an
end to the silent epidemic of childhood lead
poisoning in Lancaster County. "
About 45 percent of Lancaster County
households include a child under the age of
6 or a pregnant woman. At the same time,
it is estimated that nearly 91,000 homes in
the county were built prior to 1978, the year
lead was banned for use in paint and other
consumer products. Today, lead-based paint
in the home is by far the leading cause of
lead poisoning in children.
Frances C. Gross, DO, Chair, Department
of Pediatrics, LGH, said that together these
two factors - the prevalence of both young
children and older homes - increase local
families' vulnerability to lead exposure and
poisoning. Indeed, Lancaster County reports
the fourth-highest rate of lead poisoning in
Pennsylvania.
" Children in our community are far
more likely to have lead poisoning than
their peers across the state, " she said. " It's a
dubious distinction and one that we must
change for the sake of today's children and
for future generations. "
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated
the problem of lead-poisoning, as children
are spending more time in houses with
potential lead exposure and visiting their
healthcare provider less frequently. Many
local providers have seen this first-hand, with
an increase in the number of children who
test positive for elevated blood lead levels.
Once lead enters a child's system, it cannot
be removed. There is no medicine or
treatment to stop the ravaging effects and
long-term damage caused by lead poisoning.
However, it is 100 percent preventable by
removing the primary source of the problem
- lead hazards in the home - before
it's too late.
Over time, lead-based paint breaks down,
which creates dust. When that dust enters a
growing child's body, it is rapidly absorbed
into their brain, bones, and kidneys, leading
to irreversible mental and physical effects.
In addition to identifying and remediating
lead hazards and making homes safer places
for children and families to live, Lead-Free
Families will work with healthcare providers
across the county to stress the importance of
early lead screening in children. Currently,
Lancaster County children are not consistently
screened for blood lead levels.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON LEAD-FREE FAMILIES, INCLUDING HOW TO APPLY FOR ASSISTANCE FROM THE PROGRAM,
PROVIDERS OR PATIENTS MAY VISIT LEADFREEFAMILIES.ORG OR CALL 717-544-LEAD (5323).
LANCASTER 9 PHYSICIAN
PENN MEDICINE
LANCASTER GENERAL
HEALTH'S LEAD-FREE
FAMILIES PROGRAM
SERVICES IN LANCASTER
COUNTY INCLUDE:
Lead screening for children
and pregnant people
Testing homes for lead
In-home lead remediation
Home visits with health-care
and social service support
Community education
and outreach
Public policy advocacy
and education
" Most children with detectable levels of
lead in their blood have no obvious symptoms, "
Dr. Gross said. " That's why it is so
important that every child between the ages
of 9 months and 3 years old be tested for
lead in their blood. "
Lead poisoning can lead to permanent
health problems, including developmental
delays, learning and behavioral problems,
lower IQ, and mental health challenges. As
the child gets older, these issues can lead to
criminal behavior and incarceration, impacting
not just individuals but also families and
communities as a whole.
Pregnant women who are exposed to lead
also face a greater risk for complications
that include low birth weight; premature
birth; damage to the baby's brain, kidneys,
and nervous system; and even miscarriage.
Dr. Martin shared that this initiative
will help ensure a healthier trajectory for
Lancaster County, " Together, we can make
a measurable impact on lead poisoning's
insidious effects on our children and families
- especially for the most vulnerable in
our communities - and welcome a brighter
future for us all. "
Removing lead from homes can bring about
positive health impacts, including improved
academic outcomes, lower education costs,
increased lifetime earning potential, and
reduced risk of criminal behavior. Overall,
these improvements lead to healthier children,
families, and communities.
http://www.leadfreefamilies.org/

Lancaster Physician Fall 2021

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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/Lancaster_Physician/LPWinter18
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/Lancaster_Physician/Fall2017
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