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Lead is a heavy metal. Routes of exposure to lead include contaminated air, water, soil and food.(4) Hand-to-mouth activities in young children increase their risk of lead exposure. Well described sources include lead-based paint from imported toys and in older houses.(6) Toxicity has also been linked to lead-contaminated traditonal remedies (2), imported candies/condiments, and fashion accessories.(6)
Elevated blood lead concentrations have been reported in up to 7 - 13% of African(5, 6) South Asian(7, 8) and Burmese(2, 9) refugee children, especially in those aged < 6 years; although rarely to a concentration requiring chelation therapy. Blood lead screening is now recommended for all refugee children (aged 6 months - 16 years) arriving in the United States(10). Blood lead screening is not part of Australian refugee guidelines, but should be considered in any child with developmental delay, pica, or where there is a history suggesting exposure.
Clinical features vary depending on level of exposure and age of the child; they may be non-specific.
Immigrant health resources. Authors: Dr Anthea Rhodes and Dr Georgie Paxton. Initial April 2012. Last review May 2015. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org