Taskforce: Prevention is Key to Stop Lead Poisoning
The Douglas County Health Department and Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance this month launched a taskforce dedicated to increasing the number of local children who are tested for blood lead poisoning. An event to announce the effort was attended by public health workers, community advocates, and health professionals.
¬†A bill, introduced this year by state Sen. Brenda Council and passed by the Nebraska Legislature, seeks to ensure that more children undergo lead testing.¬† Children receiving Medicaid are required to be tested for lead when then are 1 and 2 years old, but only about one third of Nebraska children in that age group actually are tested.
Dr. Bruce Lanphear, a leading physician and researcher who has spent decades studying the effects of lead poisoning on children, said during the meeting that children who suffer lead poisoning are much more likely to exhibit Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or even criminal behavior.
The taskforce identified the following strategies to increase testing:
¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Physician education to ensure doctors test children
¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Target high-risk areas where children are likely to be exposed
¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Reduce lead in older homes to prevent exposure.
¬†According to data, children who have lead poisoning are seven times more likely to drop out of school, Douglas County Health Director, Dr. Adi Pour said.
The¬†Douglas County Health Department and the Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance have pledged continued collaboration to advance the work of the taskforce, according to OHKA President and CEO Kara Eastman.¬†
More information on the project can be found at omahahealthykids.org or by calling the Omaha Lead Hotline at 1-877-LEAD-411 or 1-877-532-3411.