The habit of chewing toys is commonly observed in infants who are teething. This is but natural, because as teeth begin to grow, infants get the urge to chew something, whatever they can lay their hands on. In such circumstances, allowing the infant to play with toys that contain lead-based paints, can be a cause for concern. Repeatedly chewing the toy may expose him to high levels of lead. Be it the superhero figures, car models, or building blocks, the generous use of lead-based paints in these toys can be fatal for kids.
Toys that are coated with lead are no longer manufactured in the United States. However, imported toys may contain lead-based paints. In fact, majority of the toys available in the United States are imported. This makes it necessary to test for lead contamination in toys that come from far-flung places.
Although lead is present in blood, even a small increase in the concentration can be toxic. Lead levels in blood may go up, if an infant continuously chews on a toy coated with a lead-based paint. Simply put, babies biting or sucking toys coated with lead paint are at a great health risk.
As aforementioned, repeated lead exposure is bound to make children vulnerable to a wide range of health problems. Those are discussed below:
Overexposure to lead can eventually lead to poor kidney function. Children exposed to high levels of lead may suffer from nephropathy, a condition that typically causes kidney diseases. Advanced kidney diseases have been observed in people who were chronically exposed to lead during childhood. Decrease in production of urine is often an indication of damage to kidneys.
Learning disabilities is yet another adverse side effect of frequently chewing toys containing lead-based paints. According to the EPA, repeated exposure to even low levels of lead paint may subsequently lead to low IQ and learning disabilities in children. Educational proficiency may drastically diminish in children affected by lead poisoning.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
Short attention span, one of the primary symptoms of ADD, can also affect children who are exposed to high levels of lead. Children with ADD are predominantly inattentive, suffer from poor concentration, and tend to be hyperactive.
Poor Muscle Coordination
Impaired muscle coordination is also one of the dangers of prolonged exposure to lead-based paints in toys. Lack of muscle coordination suggests that high blood lead levels have affected the nervous system, and have caused nerve damage.
Sociopathic behavior may also be observed in children playing (or rather mouthing) with lead-based paint in toys. Behavioral problems such as excessive aggression is one of the symptoms of lead poisoning.
Children who repeatedly chew toys that have a surface coating of lead, are likely to have difficulty in hearing.
Chronic lead exposure can eventually trigger seizures in children. When lead content in blood is extremely high, it can lead to impaired functioning of the brain, which may lead to seizures and unconsciousness.
Initially, the symptoms that are observed, make it difficult to recognize lead poisoning. This is because, these symptoms are very similar to many other diseases. Hence, diagnostic confusion always exists. The initial symptoms are:
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of Appetite
- Weight loss
Eliminating all sources of lead from a child's environment is necessary to prevent any sort of health hazard. Toys coated with lead-based paints should be immediately discarded. As plastic objects are often chewed by infants, one should ensure that these objects are not painted with a lead-based paint. There have been cases of lead poisoning in infants due to chewing of baby monitors. So, anything that is in proximity of the child should be free from lead-based paints.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.