Lead and children: clinical management for family physicians.
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OBJECTIVE: To provide family physicians with a practical, evidence-based approach to screening for and preventing children's exposure to lead. SOURCES OF INFORMATION: MEDLINE was searched using terms relevant to lead exposure and poisoning. We reviewed English-language articles published in 2003 to 2008. Most cited studies provide level 2 or 3 evidence. MAIN MESSAGE: Lead is a developmental neurotoxin. Children are most commonly exposed and they are most vulnerable. Lead exposure has been associated with many cognitive and motor deficits, as well as distractibility and other characteristics of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Although children's blood lead levels have declined considerably over the past 3 decades with removal of lead from gasoline and paint, children can still be exposed to lead from lead paint in older homes, toys, and other sources. Because post-exposure treatment cannot reverse the cognitive effects of lead exposure, preventing lead exposure is essential. CONCLUSION: Family physicians have an important role in screening for children at high risk of lead exposure, and in educating families to prevent the exposure of children to lead.
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