Health Effects of Lead Exposure
No safe level of lead exposure in children has been identified.
Exposure to lead can seriously harm a child’s health and cause well-documented adverse effects such as:
- Damage to the brain and nervous system
- Slowed growth and development
- Learning and behavior problems
- Hearing and speech problems
This can cause:
- Lower IQ
- Decreased ability to pay attention
- Underperformance in school
There is also evidence that childhood exposure to lead can cause long-term harm.
The good news is that childhood lead poisoning is 100% preventable.
CDC’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention program is working across government programs to teach healthcare providers, parents, educators and others how to track developmental milestones in children under five who have documented lead exposure―and how to act early if there is a concern.
- CDC’s developmental milestones https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/ describes milestones children generally reach at each age, from 2 months – 5 years old.
- CDC’s Milestone Tracker app https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones-app.html, available in English and Spanish, is a free tool to help you monitor your child’s developmental progress.
- CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/index.html offers specific tools for families, healthcare providers, educators, home visiting programs and others.
- HHS provides Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! A Compendium of Screening Measures for Young Children https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ecd/child-health-development/watch-me-thrive#Compendiumexternal icon to support early childhood practitioners in the choices they make when selecting or changing their developmental screening tools.