Lead is a naturally occurring metal found in the earth’s crust. Unfortunately, human activities such as burning fossil fuels, mining, and manufacturing lead can contaminate our air, water, and soil. Industries also formerly mixed lead into paint and gasoline and still use it in solder, pipes, batteries, pottery, roofing materials, and some cosmetics.
Children are particularly susceptible to lead exposure. In children, even small amounts of lead levels can cause serious health problems and severely affect mental and physical development. Lead poisoning can damage a child’s nervous system, brain, and other organs, and at extremely high levels, it can even be fatal.
Lead Poisoning Symptoms in Children
Lead poisoning can be challenging to detect. And regrettably, lead poisoning signs and symptoms don’t always appear until dangerous amounts have accumulated in a child’s system.
Signs and symptoms of lead poisoning may include the following:
- Developmental delays,
- Loss of appetite,
- Weight loss,
- Abdominal pain,
- Learning struggles,
- Listlessness and fatigue,
- Hearing loss,
- Seizures, and
- Eating paint chips and other non-food items (called pica).
Lead poisoning symptoms in newborns and babies exposed to lead before birth also include:
- Premature birth,
- Low birth weight, and
- Slowed growth.
Lead poisoning treatment is available. But identifying lead positioning early and taking precautions can help protect your loved ones before they suffer serious harm.
Testing for Lead Poisoning in Children
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that doctors perform a lead risk assessment at well-child visits at 6, 9, 12, 18, and 24 months and 3, 4, 5, and 6 years of age. The AAP recommends that doctors administer blood level tests only if the risk assessment is positive. However, the best way to know if your child is suffering from lead exposure is to test their blood. Furthermore, Medicaid and other California public assistance programs require enrolled children to get tested for lead at ages 12 and 24 months or 24–72 months if they have no record of ever being tested.
Is It Safe for All Children to Be Tested?
Medical professionals perform lead tests using a simple and safe blood draw. During this procedure, a healthcare provider will take a small amount of blood from the child’s finger, heel, or arm using one or both of the following methods:
- Finger-prick or heel-prick (capillary) sample. Finger-prick tests provide fast results and are usually the first step to determining blood levels. But they can also harvest lead on the skin, resulting in a higher lead reading. For this reason, when a finger-prick test shows blood lead levels at or above CDC’s blood lead reference value, doctors usually perform a venous blood draw to confirm it.
- Venous blood draw. Contamination is less likely when doctors collect blood from a child’s vein. However, venous blood draws can take a few days to produce laboratory results.
Overall, blood tests are extremely safe. Rarely, the site where medical professionals draw your child’s blood could become infected or bruised. However, blood draws usually result in a slight prick, aren’t painful, and heal quickly.
How Much Will Lead Testing for My Child Cost Me?
The cost of a lead test varies depending on where the test is done and whether you have health insurance. When a doctor orders your test, insurance typically covers a portion of it after your child’s copay or deductible. Your child’s doctor’s office, lab, and health plan can provide more information about your out-of-pocket costs or other fees you may be responsible for. Some clinics and doctors also offer sliding scales for patients lacking health insurance or unable to pay the co-pay costs. Under the California Medi-Cal program administered by the State Department of Health Care Services, qualified low-income individuals who receive state health care services can receive testing for free.
Can I Be Reimbursed for Any Costs Related to My Lead Poisoning Case?
If you or your child were victims of lead poisoning, you might be able to file a lawsuit and receive compensation for your injuries. At Riley | Ersoff LLP, some of our recent lead poisoning settlements have been upwards of $10 million. However, how much your lead poisoning case is worth depends on many factors, including the cause of the lead poisoning, the at-fault party, and the severity and lastingness of your or your child’s injuries. Commonly, damages available to lead poisoning victims include the following:
- Medical expenses—any medical expenses associated with your or your child’s lead poisoning are eligible for compensation, including medical care and other medical needs you may have in the future;
- Lost wages—if lead poisoning caused you to miss work or you had to stay home to take care of a child experiencing symptoms, you may be eligible to receive compensation for the time you took off or will need to take off in the future;
- Pain and suffering—the greater the pain and suffering your or your child’s lead poisoning causes, the more compensation you may be eligible for;
- Mental and emotional distress—lead poisoning mental and emotional distress are eligible for compensation; and
- Punitive damages—if your case involves particularly egregious behavior, you may be granted punitive damages, which courts award to punish the party responsible for your or your child’s injuries.
Consulting with an experienced attorney can help you determine the kind of compensation you or your loved one are eligible to receive.
Riley | Ersoff LLP, LLP Can Help
At Riley | Ersoff LLP, our attorneys have nearly 70 years of combined legal experience. We have recovered over $40 million in settlements for lead poisoning victims and make it our mission to fight tooth and nail for our clients’ best interests. Our lawyers have a Martindale-Hubble AV-Preeminent rating (the highest rating) and have been named “Super Lawyer” by the Los Angeles legal community, among other numerous awards and designations. Best of all, we care about you, your story, and your unique circumstances. You’ll never be just another faceless client or case file when you work with us. Let us fight for the compensation you’re entitled to. Call us today or contact us online for a free consultation.