Keeping kids on track
While doctors have long understood the link between childhood lead poisoning and developmental delays, parents in Illinois have been locked in a waiting game. Until their child has substantial developmental difficulties, they are not eligible for the state’s Early Intervention program, which provides free or low-cost therapy to children ages zero to three with delays or disabilities. But by the time a child begins exhibiting these delays, which may take years, it’s often too late to make a real difference.
Soon parents may be getting some extra help, however. The Illinois Department of Human Services is considering allowing all young children with elevated blood lead levels to be automatically eligible for Early Intervention. If adopted, Illinois would join twenty-one other states that currently provide such services to lead-affected children
“There’s no drug that I can give that will eliminate the effects of lead on the developing brain,” explains pediatrician Dr. Nicole Hamp of the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital. “But the developing brain, particularly between birth and five years old, is so plastic that while we can’t reverse the effects of lead, we can compensate for the effects of lead. So early intervention is really key for these kids, because we’re catching them at an age when they are really going to benefit from it.”
To find about more and get tips for preventing lead poising, read the full article by Nissa Rhee for the South Side Weekly