What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Lead Poisoning?

Many children with lead poisoning may show no symptoms at all. When symptoms are present, they will usually involve the brain and central nervous system, including symptoms of cerebral edema (swelling in the brain), such as: headaches, change in behavior, nausea, vomiting, changes in pupil's responses in the eyes, drowsiness or irritability, fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, confusion, poor coordination, seizures, coma or paralysis. Symptoms of malnutrition also may be present, such as: anemia, poor muscle strength and developmental delays.

Lead poisoning also may cause mental retardation. For every increase of 10 micrograms/dl of lead in the blood, there is a corresponding decrease of 3 IQ points. There may be hearing impairment, learning disabilities, behavior problems, hyperactivity, impulsivity, increased distractibility and poor kidney function causing the excretion of glucose, proteins or ketones in the urine.

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