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  QUESTION: How quickly does a blood lead level drop when the baby moves out of the lead-contaminated house? 24 Jun 2003, Queensland Australia

My daughter was diagnosed with elevated lead levels 6 weeks ago at 27.8/1.34 and she was removed from our house and taken to a barely populated house where we lived in a new house (8 years old) but on retesting this week it has only decreased to 26.1/1.26. We are absolutely distraught because we had been led to believe that it would leave her system much faster than this. How quickly should it leave her body (she is 16months old) and are there any natural therapies we can give her (vitamins, calcium, iron, vitamin c)? Please reply ASAP or let us know the address of a specialist because in Brisbane, the hospitals, our paediatrician and GP have very little knowledge about lead poisoning in children. Thanks

ANSWER: 08 Jul 2003

Dear Kiley,

The best kind of result that we've heard of to answer the question "How quickly does a blood lead level drop when the baby moves out of the lead-contaminated house?" is that one of Australia's foremost lead assessors, Jason Bawden Smith of JBS in Sydney (ph 02 83381011), says the blood lead level can be expected to halve each six months if the lead sources are identified and removed. In fact Jason has seen some children's blood lead levels fall more quickly than that but halving in 6 months is a good aim to keep in mind.

If a baby has lead in their gut (eg a swallowed fishing sinker, lead paint flakes, a bullet etc) then until this has been pinpointed by x-ray and removed by surgery if appropriate, then the blood lead level would not be expected to fall and may indeed rise - whether the baby is in another home or not.

The nutritional intervention for an elevated blood lead level is to ensure adequate intake of iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin c, protein and omega three fatty acids and this may entail taking supplements, depending on whether the child is a fussy eater or not. Please refer to an excellent US publication called "Lead and a Healthy Diet What You Can Do to Protect Your Child "

The only doctor we've heard of as treating lead poisoned children in Brisbane is Dr Gary Deed, GP, YourHealth Carina, 830 Old Cleveland Rd Carina QLD 4152, ph 33950813.

Sorry for the delay in responding. We're just about to lose all our funding so have hit panic stations. The Qld Health Dept is supposed to help you with this so if they haven't been helpful yet then call Ian Marshall, Scientific Adviser (Toxicologist), Queensland Health Department, ph direct 32340812, switch 32340938.

Yours sincerely
Elizabeth O'Brien

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