What are some of the health problems lead can cause?

Lead in drinking water can enter your blood and build up in the body over time. Children under 6-years-old are most at risk of harm to their health. If you are pregnant, lead can harm your unborn baby. Adults are less likely than children to be harmed by lead in water.

Lead exposure in babies and young children can cause serious health problems. Some of the health problems may never go away. Lead in a child’s body can:

  • Slow down growth and development
  • Damage hearing and speech
  • Make it hard to pay attention and learn

Unborn babies build bone from calcium found in their mother’s bones. When calcium is released from the mother’s bones to her unborn baby, lead stored in her bones is released too. Lead can also cross the placenta. Lead can:

  • Reduce growth of the unborn baby including the brain, kidneys and nervous system
  • Cause premature birth
  • Cause a miscarriage

Good nutrition is one way to protect your family from lead. Include calcium, iron and vitamin C in your family’s diet. This may help keep lead from being absorbed in the body.

Talk with your doctor if you have concerns about exposure to lead from drinking water or other sources. Your doctor may choose to order a lead blood test. A lead blood test can tell you how much lead may be in your blood.

Show All Answers

1. What is lead?
2. How can I be exposed to lead?
3. How does lead get into drinking water?
4. How can I prevent being exposed to lead in my water?
5. Why does flushing the water before drinking make it safe?
6. What are some of the health problems lead can cause?
7. Where can I get my child’s blood tested for lead?
8. What does an "elevated blood lead level" mean?
9. Should I have my child tested for lead?
10. Where can I go to get my water tested?
11. Will it cost me anything to get my water tested for lead?
12. What else is the Berrien County Health Department doing?
13. What is a lead service line?
14. How do I know if I have a lead service line going to my house?
15. Where can I go to find more information?