OKLAHOMA CITY — For months, toy recalls were spotlighted in the local news due to violations of the federal lead paint standard. Understandably, many parents and family members continue to be concerned about what to buy their children for Christmas.

The risk of lead poisoning associated with a toy is very low unless the child has a history of ingesting foreign bodies or continually placing cracked, chipped or broken toys in their mouth. The best approach for purchasing toys is to be informed about toy recalls and to focus on brands you trust, making sure they are a member of the Toy Industry Association, which adheres to industry standards. Be skeptical of “hot toy” lists; now is not the time to buy something on the sale rack. Follow age recommendations for the toy. If it says “not suited for children under 3,” heed the warning and look for another toy that is suitable. If a toy has been recalled, take away the toy and contact the manufacturer for further instructions.

The most common sources of childhood lead exposure are through the ingestion of paint chips or dirt that is contaminated with lead. A child may not directly eat paint chips but can still be exposed when paint chips are crushed into dust, such as around a window sill, where the opening and closing of the window breaks down the paint chips.

Especially at risk are children under the age of 6 and those living in homes or apartment buildings built prior to 1978. Other high-risk sources include living with someone whose job or hobby involves exposure to lead (e.g., painting, soldering, auto battery manufacturing or recycling, auto radiator repair or ceramic work); living near an active lead smelter, battery recycling plant or other industry likely to release lead; and living in a home with broken plaster or peeling paint on the walls. These sources of exposure pose the greatest threat to your child.

There is no safe blood level for lead, and poisoning occurs from repeated exposures over time.

Steps to help prevent lead poisoning include:

·         washing children’s hands often, especially before

    eating and after playing outside

·         washing toys often

·         rinsing pacifiers if they fall on the floor

·         and providing a nutritious diet with plenty of foods

    that are high in iron and calcium — children who

    are undernourished can absorb more lead into

    their body than  children with a healthy and well-

    balanced diet.

If you are concerned that your child has been exposed to lead, talk with your physician about a test for lead blood level. You also may contact the Oklahoma Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at (405) 271-6617.        

The Oklahoma Poison Control Center is operated by a team of highly qualified and specially trained nurses and pharmacists who can provide immediate assistance at any hour, day or night. The center is a program of the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy at the Children’s Hospital at OU MEDICAL CENTER.