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  QUESTION: My son swallowed a lead fishing sinker & everything I have read contradicts my doctors advice, 28 Jul 2006, Mississippi USA

My son swallowed a lead fishing sinker on 7-26-06. The doctor has told me it will pass and that there is no chance of my son absorbing enough lead to do any harm. Everything I have read contradicts my doctors advice. Can you help me with this situation? What is the best thing for me to do at this point?


I wanted to thank you for responding to my email concerning my son. I have been so frustrated dealing with his pediatricians office. They just see no reason to worry about this situation, but I did leave there yesterday with a new x-ray and lab work done. When I got home, I faxed all of the info I had on children swallowing lead foreign bodies. I sure hope they take a look at it and come up with a better way of handling this type of situation in the future. Again, thanks for your help.

ANSWER: 28 Jul 2006

Dear Madam,
your son may not absorb enough lead to do much harm IF the fishing sinker passes straight through the gut but it being two days since he swallowed the sinker, this clearly has not happened and you are quite right to wonder about your doctor's advice. One of our clients had to take her son to the emergency department of three hospitals before she was able to locate a doctor who knew how to appropriately manage ingested fishing sinkers.

See the attached: "Case History 1 - "Lead Sinker Ingestion" for Olympic Coordinating Authority (OCA) fact sheet on Lead"

If you want to return to your doctor you could refer your doctor to the abstract entitled "Management of Lead Poisoning From Ingested Fishing Sinkers" Eugene Mowad, MD; Ibrahim Haddad, MD; David J. Gemmel, MA. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1998 May;152(5):485-8  then hopefully your doctor will be registered with PubMed and so able to access the full article.

Similarly with "Fatal Lead Encephalopathy Following Foreign Body Ingestion: Case Report" Hugelmeyer CD, Moorhead JC, Horenblas L, Bayer MJ. J Emerg Med. 1988 Sep-Oct;6(5):397-400.

Although it seems that doctors were trained, at least up to 1988, to let the foreign object pass, the Poisons Info line in Australia recently advised the carer of a child who swallowed a sinker to get him to the hospital as soon as possible for blood lead testing and possibly an x-ray of the gut so I shall finish this email quickly now so that you might be able to do this today.

Please let me know how you go and how it all turns out.

Yours Sincerely
Elizabeth O'Brien

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