37 answers

High Levels of Lead in Babies Blood

when i took my son to our WIC appt in june for his one year visit they did a blood test on him and they said that his iron was low and that his lead level was at a 10. they said just to watch what he eats and give him more iron to eat. they retested his blood at the end of july and they called me today to tell me that his lead level is higher and now at 15. they want to wait until oct to do another test and then if its higher they will come in and they have a tester that will show where the lead is coming from. we moved into our house one week before he was born and im home with him every day so i know its coming from somewhere in our house. our house is very old, but everything has been repainted except the upstairs. in his bedroom we put up a blanket behind his crib to make sure he wasn't chipping off anything on the walls (we haven't noticed any chipping paint its just to be safe)and after finding out that his levels were up we even put him into another room to sleep in case it was in that room, other than sleeping that is the only time he is upstairs. im really worried about the long term effects this is going to have on him.. mainly because its still going up, plus im due in two weeks with another baby and i don't want it to effect her also since we can't figure out where he is getting it from. i called his ped and they said that i don't need to come in now since i already have an appt set up for his 15 months check up in sept it can wait until then to talk to her about what to do.
i was just wondering if anyone else has dealt with this and can tell me some really good foods to give him that will help get the higher iron in him other than what we are giving him? he loves all fruits and veggies, he really likes orange juice and beef but isn't big on other meats. he likes all kinds of pasta dishes and all dairy except milk, he refuses to drink it.. pretty much other than meats and plain milk he isn't a picky eater. i have still been giving him one bottle of the step two formula with iron a day as advised by the nurse. all meals are homemade, i rarely use boxed foods and have been buying foods (pasta, cereal, oj etc) that is fortified with iron just to help. i just don't know what else to give him that im missing to get the levels down (plus we can't figure out the source where he is getting it). thank you all for any ideas you have!

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I have no idea about the lead, but my son loves dark red kidney beans which are high in iron and great for protein too. Don't give too many at first so that his little tummy can get used to them. Canned ones seem the easiest to me and Noah has been eating them for about a year and a half now. Hope that helps some on the iron side of things.

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I've had some experience with elevated levels of lead in my child's blood. After contacting the Marathon County Health Department for information, I realized that the source was more than likely the lead pipes that carried the water to our house. Our house had been built in the 1930's and my concern was also lead paint. After getting one of the lead testing kits at Ace Hardware, I only found lead paint on our screened in porch, which we didn't use much anyway. The source had to be the water and after purchasing bottled water for quite some time, I had my son's blood retested to find there were no longer traces of lead in his blood. I definitely think it was the water. Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful

What about your pipes? In the older homes, they used lead pipes for the water. A lot of cities still have lead pipes for their water systems. You might want to consider having your water tested, just to see if there is lead levels there. I don't know why they want to wait until October to get someone in to see where the lead is coming from. I would insist that it be sooner, just for the health and safety for all of you.

If you do not like what you are hearing from your doctor and you don 't want to wait till October, then DON'T. Find a different doctor get the levels checked again and get someone into the house to find out where the lead is. Lead can cause long term and short term problems. I feel it should always be a problem that is solved ASAP. I knew a kid once who had lead posioning from her bed frame, who would of thought. She was six and just sleeping in her bed each night. Once the bed frame was removed her levels dropped.

We too have a very old house, and when my now 11 year old was 1, we had the same situation. The health department has a lead division. Even though my daughter was not in the high danger zone, I demanded that they come out and look at my home, and give me more information. They did!!!!! Our problem was dust from our neighbors grinding ALL of the old paint off of their home. The dust collected in our windows and blew into our home. We also learned that in older homes, even if the lead paint on the walls is "contained" the dust can still be in the windows and when they are opened or closed the dust can get into the home. To this day I vacuum the windows every time I do the rugs. I was told to feed my daughter "natural high fats", like alvacado. The health department as well as your doctor can give you more foods that will help. I would not wait until the next appointment. My daughter is fine, does great in school and everything else, but I worked very hard to get the lead out of her system.

I have no idea about the lead, but my son loves dark red kidney beans which are high in iron and great for protein too. Don't give too many at first so that his little tummy can get used to them. Canned ones seem the easiest to me and Noah has been eating them for about a year and a half now. Hope that helps some on the iron side of things.

R., I am with the consensus of some of the other moms, I think the old plumbing in the house could definitely be the culprit. At this point I would be more concerned about the high levels of lead in your child than the iron, because there are supplements for low iron if need be, however we all know what can happen with too much lead in the body.
I don't know if you could call the MN Dept. of Health or the City Works Division to come out a.s.a.p. to check into that, sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I would switch to bottled water until you have that checked out. I know that might seem costly to do, but the cost of that would only be a fraction of the cost of medical bills further on down the road.
Best of luck to you and your family!

I wonder about your water. We used to live in St Paul and we found out the city had replaced all its lead water pipes but the pipes from the city to the house had never been replaced so we had high levels of lead. We put a filter on our faucet, which is effective and inexpensive.

You can get your water tested but I don't know a whole lot about how to go about it. I'd buy a filter right away (make sure it reduces lead because some of them just make water taste better. We've used Pur and Teledyne.) And then get your water tested in hopes of ruling that out or confirming and eliminating it.

As others have said, I would have your water tested. The lead could be coming from your house's pipes.

I have four children my two middle sons had Lead Levels of 32 and 68. The Lead level of 75 is when permanent brain damage and kidney failure occurs. At the local lead clinic in the early 2000 -2001 the Doctors stated a level of 11 was considered high because of the damage that could occur to the neurological systems of children.
The Lead paint does not have to "peel" to be dangerous. In the late 1990's the lead just started leaching out of paint leaving a white powdery substance on the walls and carpets resembling household dust. Run your finger on the wall of your child's room and taste the dust IF it tastes like vanilla pudding you have lead leaching out of the paint... when you vacumn it is blown into the air... Wash their toys , especially ones they may want to put in their mouths.
Buy a lead testing kit to check your water incase lead sodder was used on them. There is a lead clinic at Hennepin County Medical Center if you need more information.

Feeding your children yogurt is great , the yogurt attaches to the lead and removes it from their bodies.

You can also get medication to "chelate" the lead from their system. The medication usually comes in capsules and honestly smells like skunk! but you can open the capsules pour the content in a tablespoon, cover the beads with catsup and your children, if they like catsup like most children, will eat it up thinking you are giving them catsup medication.

I hope this helps you we lived through this and your child's levels are low enough to prevent problems.

B. Smith
"How Big is the Fly? Asking the Right Questions"

To help with iron; If you have a cast iron pan, since you mentioned he likes pasta, You can prepare tomatoes in the pan w/ the beef or whatever and tossed it with the pasta. The tomatoes are slightly acidic and heating them in the pan draws the iron out into the food. Also, Raisins make a wonderful snack that are high in iron.
The only thing i can think of for the lead levels besides what you are doing now, would be to make sure he gets good stuff full of antioxidants. My girls Love pomagranete juice.

I am so sorry to hear that you are going through this. I don't have any great ideas regarding the lead, but I have heard that spinach and raisins are both good sources of iron. I discovered that I was low on iron once when I went to give blood and the nurse told me to eat some raisins and it raised it enough for me to donate. (and I was surprised about the low iron level, since I had STEAK the night before....) Good luck with your 4 boys and your sweet new baby girl!

I see that you babysit also- if you are babysitting in your home, you need to notify the parents of that child immediately of the lead situation, if you have not already, because you may be putting their child at risk also. If you are going to their home to baby-sit, and you bring any toys or dishware from your house to theirs, they should probably also be notified of your son's levels, just in case they want to check their child's levels as well.

I sent the text of the EPA's lead-based paint brochure to you via private message, as it is long and I didn't want to clog up the message board here.


I too went through this with my son. Take your child to see his pediatrician to get tested again. I know it is a hard thing to do, I had to hold my son down while he screamed when they did the tests. Anyway, if the tests come back just as high there, the doctor's office will have to get the city involved to come test the house. They will determine where the lead is coming from (ours was from the window panes) and if you are a renter, they will let your landlord know and he will HAVE to fix the problem. However, if you are the homeowner, it will be your responsibility to resolve the issue. This involves hiring a company that specializes in lead removal and can be pretty expensive but it is worth it as high lead levels have effects on how your child develops. Good luck with all this!!!


I would just like to tell you I was in the same boat with my yooungets daughter. When she was six months old they tested her and she was at a 15 by then.They tested again at 1 yr and it was up to 31. She had to have her bllod tested every 3 weeks. It was hard and we never knew what was causing hers either. I am hoping things work out for you. Ask when they can get in and do the test to see where it's comeing from, so you will know but also remeber you should not be to woried about your daughter right away, or at leats untill she gets to crawling, or able to get to the window seals or anything higher then normal. Hope this helps.

Our son had slightly elevated levels of lead and we decided to get a filter (Reverse Osmosis filter under our sink) and that seemed to help. If you have older pipes they can leach lead. I believe it was the way they were soldered together or something. If you could at least get a Brita filter they may help with lead in water for time being.

Hi R.,
You are right to be concerned and following up on this. Here is a web like to a page that may help you figure out where lead exposure may be coming from:


I would add that it could also be coming from dishes (if you use ceramic, buy a simple test kit at the hardware store to check them). Also, don't overlook the soil outside the home. You may be tracking lead into your home that way.

Regarding the dietary iron, here is a website that lists foods with iron:


Best Wishes,

I agree with testing the pipes in your home as your water may be a potential cause for increased lead in you and your son--but an easy, temporary, inexpensive fix would be to get a good water filtration system for your faucet for now (you can check the side of a box to see which ones remove lead, etc) and then follow up and check your pipes and other potential sources as recommended. And it seems to me you're really working to give him lots of iron...I would also recommend having your ped retest him for the amounts of lead and iron sooner rather than later.

Here is some information from http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/healthy/safe... that might be helpful.
Lead is a heavy metal that is found naturally in the Earth's crust. It has historically been used in a number of household products.

More than 4% of children in the United States have lead poisoning. Rates of lead poisoning are higher in large cities and among people with low incomes.

The most common cause of lead poisoning today is old paint with lead in it. Lead has not been used in house paint since 1978. However, many older houses and apartment buildings (especially those built before 1960) have lead-based paint on their walls.

Toddlers explore their world by putting things in their mouths. Therefore, young children who live in older buildings are at especially high risk of getting lead poisoning. Children can get lead poisoning by chewing on pieces of peeling paint or by swallowing house dust or soil that contains tiny chips of the leaded paint from these buildings.

Lead can also be in air, water and food. Lead levels in the air have gone down greatly since lead was taken out of gasoline in the 1970s. Lead is still found in some old water pipes, although using lead solder to mend or put together water pipes is no longer allowed in the United States. Lead can also be found in food or juice stored in foreign-made cans or improperly fired ceramic containers.
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How can I lower the risk that my child will get lead poisoning?
Here are some things you can do to lower your family's risk of lead poisoning:
If you live in a house or an apartment built before 1978, ask your doctor about blood lead testing for your child and keep your child away from peeling paint. Peeling paint needs to be removed from all surfaces up to 5 feet above the floor. It is also a good idea to repaint the rooms to seal in the lead paint.
If you're remodeling an old home, seal off the rooms that are being worked on. For example, put heavy sheets of plastic over doorways and windows of the work area.
If there's a problem with lead poisoning in the area where you live, or if a lot of older houses in your neighborhood are being remodeled, have your family wipe their feet and take their shoes off before they come into your home. This will lower the chance of tracking soil with lead in it into your home.
Wash your child's hands and face before meals.
To get more information about what else you can do to lower your family's exposure to lead, talk to your doctor or call your local health department (the number is in the phone book). Tell your doctor if you are concerned that your child may have been exposed to lead.
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What will my doctor do if my child's blood has a high level of lead?
During regular well-child checkups for your baby, toddler or preschooler, your doctor will ask you questions to see if there is a chance that your child might get lead poisoning. The doctor might test your child's blood for lead.

If your child's blood lead level is above normal, your doctor will give you information on how you can lower your child's lead level. Your doctor will then test your child's blood lead level every few months until the level drops into the normal range.

Fortunately, only a small number of babies and children have high enough levels of lead in their blood that they need treatment. If your child's blood lead level is very high, your doctor will treat your child with medicine to lower the amount of lead in the blood.

If one or more of your children has high blood lead levels, your doctor will call your local health department. Persons from the health department can help by inspecting your home for old peeling paint and getting workers to remove the paint or cover it with new paint.

You'd be surprised how many things BESIDES old houses have lead in them. I'd see if any of his "favorite" toys have been recalled recently due to lead.
A friend's daughter had high levels of lead due to chewing on her "favorite" toy -- an old necklace with a watch on it. A lot of cheap metal jewelry contains lead. They replaced all the windows and doors in the house, only to find out her levels were climbing because she was still being exposed to it.
Good luck, it's scary and I hope you can find the source soon.

Lead can be a scarry thing and you are right to worry about long term effects.

Possible lead sources: paint (walls/window sills), dirt, toys, old cook ware or things purchased in other countries, dust from remodeling/fixup projects, car keys, dust from near by contruction sights. Lead can be airborn in this case you need to keep windows closed on windy days and make sure your AC filters are clean.

High iron foods: all meats (beef, poultry, fish, lamb, deer, pork), cereals, beans, eggs, tofu, spinach, broccoli, collard greens. Offering vitamin-C foods with iron foods helps the iron absorb a little better. Chili and split pea soup are good examples. Dairy foods have NO iron and can actually lower the amount of iron absorbed by the body. He does need some dairy but limit it to one time a day especially since he still gets formula.

I would also purchase an iron supplement such as Fer-in-sol by Enfamil.

Unfortunetly, giving high iron probably won't lower the lead level until he is not exposed to it anymore. But it should help keep the levels at bay.

You may want to have your iron checked if they haven't done it in a while, low iron can be very serious for a developing fetus. Consider haveing the whole family checked.

WIC tests have been known to be wrong. They repeatedly said my son's iron was really low and demanded a doctor's visit. My doctor tested him and said it was perfect level.

However, if you do have lead issues, there is a natural herbal supplement called Chlorella, that pulls heavy metals from the body. It is flakes of seaweed, basically, and you could sprinkle some on his food daily. (I wouldn't start with a whole capsule or you'll have some poop issues) The only thing that can happen with this is that he could end up allergic, which is rare, or if he gets too much, too fast he will cramp when he has to have a bowl movement. Then you just cut back.

You can find directions on Mercola.com (you may have to sign up for the newsletter to gain access, but it is free) and you can buy a less expensive bottle at puritanspride.com. I always order mine from mercola.com because I KNOW that it is quality.

The Chlorella actually removed mercury from my son and helped reduce his learning disabilities! Anger and rage and LD all can result from heavy metals. There was mercury in immunizations when my son was a baby.

Have everyone in the home tested ASAP!

Buy drinking water from the store.

Possibly call health dept. and have your house tested.

My granddaughter's lead levels dropped when we made one change in the household and her diet; we made sure that everything that she drank or ate was made with bottled water rather than tap water. The house had new plumbing but the tap water was still coming to the house through the old 1920's or earlier supply pipes.

For the iron - if you decide to supplement further consider a carbonyl form (Sundown company offers one) as it tends to be eaiser on the tummy that some of the ones more commonly given to babies. DO make sure your doctor agrees with the dosage as it's my understanding that iron is toxic in higher dosages.

Perhaps it is in your water. Maybe there are lead pipes somewhere...? And, why don't you give him iron viamin drops. Hope this helps!

Have you checked your sons toys??? many toys from China has high levels of lead in them if he is putting them in his mouth he might be getting high lead levels from that.

You can buy a lead tester kit at the hardware store if you want to try to do some testing around your house. You may also want to call the county to see if they have any free services to do a lead test in your home since you have kids. I'd do some more checking if you are concerned. I know everyone is putting you off, but it seems like something you might want to push on so you can get it figured out. Good luck!

Is it possible that he swallowed something with lead in it and it is slowly releasing? You can give him vitamins with iron. Also, have you considered a second opinion? It seems odd to me that your MD would wait with a level of 15. Just some thoughts.

I have never experienced this problem, but I know that you can buy a lead tester kit from places like Home Depot or Walmart. They cost only around $20 and basically, you wipe it on everything that you want to test and it tells you the amount of lead it contains. I also know that WIC has tested my baby before for low iron but when she saw her ped (who I trust more than WIC), they said she was fine. They also told me that a lot of times the WIC office gives slightly inaccurate information. So, I think that waiting until Sept to see your doc is fine. If you are really worried, push up his appt by one week. Then you can get in sooner and it won't hurt him at all to be seen one week before he is 15 months.

i think they have lead testers on the market, but some i hear are confusing. see if your county has any resources for you, as any day care provider licensed through the county would have to have these resources. i am a licensed day care provider, but my house was built in 97, and so they didnt even talk to me about lead.

why are you worried about iron? you should be more worried about fiber, which actually HELPS the body absorb and use iron. fiber fiber fiber! this may be unknown, and actually the opposite thought may be the popular one, that fiber blocks iron, but it does NOT! trust me on this. :D this is almost like the cure all for so many many many issues in this country, if only more people knew about it, constipation wouldnt be a household word!

what you can do about it is simple. buy a box of milled flax seed. sprinkle some on cereal, pancakes, sandwiches, yogurt, ice cream, pretty much anything. it is a little grainy, but basically has no taste, and adds a GREAT nutrient; fiber! :D its the best thing that ever happened to us :D you dont need much, and you can adjust the amount, if it doesnt work, use more, if you get too watery stools, use less. but about a teaspoon works well for just about anyone.

www.thechinastudy.com is a large study - they released a book in 2006. it compared diets of americans and of chinese, and found out many many diseases we have in this country are absent in china and it boils down to differences in diet! hard, chunky, stiff, painful stools are usually caused by only a lack of fiber.

see, we dont digest fiber. however, it is important to know that fiber absorbs water in the stomach. then it holds this water as it goes through the intestines, making stool softer and easier to pass. the way it should be! this simple addition to diet prevents not only constipation, but hemmeroids, fissures, and colon cancer! this goes against most doctors in our society, but the research is amazing!

as far as the lead, im not sure what to do on that. if they say more iron, then try that in combination with more fiber!!! i cant believe that they want to wait so long before testing your son again!

what i do know is that fiber can also helps flush the system, maybe with an increase in fiber there will be a decrease in lead. thats a tough one because lead tends to stay put. give more liquids, especially water, and some flax seed, or high fiber fruits, vegetables, etc. WHOLE GRAIN BREADS, not enriched, not bleached, not unbleached. WHOLE GRAIN. try to find a bread without syrups too. (sugars). if they are too expensive, try making your own with whole wheat flour or try the local farmers market, or find someone who makes good bread to trade with...

anyway, good luck

I agree with others...check the pipes. And if you have to use tap water, run it cold and heat it after, either on the stove or in a glass measuring cup in the microwave (like for a bottle or to mix cereal or something). Hot water pulls more lead out of plumbling than cold water. Good luck!

Hi R.,

It sounds like you are a busy lady & a good /careful mom-
I am familiar with this problem in the past… AS far as the lead levels go- A level of 15 warrants a visit by a Public Health nurse in NYS- certainly, at 20 or more [hopefully, it won’t go up]it then warrants a full home inspection for lead. No doubt you are aware that the lead comes from paint that was used prior to the mid-70’s.. When he is outside- does he ever eat dirt? [I ask only because my son did that sometimes when he was really small.] If so- dirt can contain lead from the paint that has chipped from your home. It can last a long time – to my knowledge. Do you own or rent your home? If you rent it- I hate to say I question the landlord- but you can’t be too careful [as you are already doing so much to help him].Besides Iron, Vitamin C & calcium can help as well. Dark green leafy veggies are great sources of Iron & vitamin C. Dairy products are great for Iron & calcium. Does he like yogurt? Can he take Iron or vitamin supplements? Washing his hands & mouth frequently can help. It sound silly, but have everyone take off their shoes before entering the house… it can cut down on the dirt/ soil that goes through your house.

Boy- It really sounds like you are doing a lot already. With the new baby, that is certainly a further push to take care of the problem once & for all. *Depending on where you live, there are also services that could provide you an inspection sooner than his levels warrant I can appreciate that you don’t want to wait 5 more months [especially w/ new baby] to find out If his levels are still concerning. BTW-Should the new baby have her lead levels tested too?
It looks like you have Internet access, use it for the great searches that can be done. If you haven t already, Search by ‘Google, ‘‘Ask’ or others- under ‘lead poisoning.’ ‘High lead levels in children’- etc. Sites like Medline-Plus are wonderful site provided by the US government
By the way, since you just moved into your present home about a year ago- your older boys are probably not affected. But the baby you are sitting for could be. How old is the baby? Something to consider

You getting lots of good advice, but I would take all of your children to the doctor and have them tested/retested!

As for your son not drinking milk, he a couple of things to try. If he normally drinks warm formula, warm his milk, try mixing formula and milk 75%/25% and gradually shift to more and more milk with less formula, don't put it in the same bottle or cup as the formula use a different style or color. He will come around.

I don't know anything about the lead, but I myself have had a low blood count quite a few times. Green leafy foods are good for the iron. My daughte used to love spinich. I would make spinach lasagna or buy it already frozen. I think I even found spinach ravioli. Bok Choy is also a good one, but has to be cooked right. Some chinese restraunts have soup with it in it. Also I was told that eating peanut butter was a good source. I don't eat beef, so that was a good option.

On a side note, congratulations on the girl! My daughter was born on Sept. 3 as well. A good day!

You stated that you moved into an older home, have you checked the pipes yet? I had a friend who recently purchased an older home and the pipes were lead, so they had to switch them out. I would strongly suggest you check the pipes and have them tested for lead and the water supply also. Good luck.

I'd read this before - so just googled and came up with a number of things -

toys... and car keys

Prior to the recent toy recall (all those Dora toys, etc) - I'd let my children gum the car keys as we shopped, etc. Seemed to make them happy to hold and mouth momma's things. When the lead based paint from the China manufacturer became so 'front page' and we found a number of our own toys on the recall list - I started looking closer at what my children were chewing, sucking, or mouthing, and googled. IF the site is accurate, it may be helpful. We did, as a result, return a couple hundred dollars worth of toys due to the lead content - and my children no longer hold car keys. Our home is 'on the fence', built in 1978. The wallpaper was disgusting in two of the rooms - so rather than remove and stir the dust - we primed the paper and did a faux finish over it. I'm pleased with the results - and it sealed in the possible lead. We didn't test it. I just didn't really want to know. Didn't know if I could live with knowing my children were that much in danger. And who's to say a contractor didn't still have some lead based paint and finish off a closet or some walls that we didn't test. So, we covered every surface. Which reminds me - doll heads, etc - notice how they are all marked up from bumping into walls - there could be small transfers from there - from upstairs?

hope it helps some:

Please take your darling baby into see her doctor and have her tested. So many times these test that the WIC offices use can give a false positive. I also googled for lead poisoning and came up with this site. It gives a little more information. http://www.keepkidshealthy.com/welcome/lead/leadtesting.html

Click on the update and there you'll find some more information. But please, don't delay with getting her in to have it checked out by a lab (dr. office) that's a little more experenced in doing testing of this kind.

I wouldn't trust WIC's tests. Our WIC program is dismally incompetent. I actually had a nurse inform me that my son was shrinking in height and wondered if I fed him too many hot dogs. It took all I had not to laugh in her face.
If you are worried then bring him in to be tested whenever you want. Peace of mind is worth the trip and it's no inconvenience to the doctor. They work for you so you get to decide when you want it done!
Are your pipes in your home up to code? You could be getting lead through your water supply if you have old pipes.
I hope all turns out well for you and your babe! Congrats on your growing family!

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