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Tips of the Week for January, 2016

Lead in Tap Water & Household Plumbing: Parent FAQ
01-26-2016

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​​Editor's Note: The information in this article applies to most situations and to a large majority of the population. Individual circumstances may vary. Your local water authority is always your first source for testing and identifying lead contamination in your tap water.

People are exposed to lead from a variety of sources, including drinking water. Below is a list of questions that parents frequently ask about the connection between lead, tap water, and household plumbing. Please read this information closely, and remember to talk to your child's pediatrician if you have any more questions or concerns about your child's exposure or heath.

Why is lead a problem?

Lead is a common metal that can be found around us in lead-based paint, air, soil, household dust, food, certain types of pottery, porcelain, pewter, and in tap water. High levels of lead in tap water can cause health effects if the lead in the water enters the blood and causes high blood lead level. It can cause damage to the brain and kidneys, and can interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of the body. See Blood Lead Levels in Children: What Parents Need to Know.

Does lead affect everyone equally?

No, the greatest risk from lead is to infants, young children, and pregnant women. In children, lead also can lead to impaired mental and physical development, and hearing problems. Infants who drink formula prepared with lead-contaminated water may be at a higher risk because of the large amount of water they drink relative to their body size.

Because of lead's effects on the developing fetus, some states have developed lead screening guidelines for pregnant women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published guidelines on screening pregnant and breastfeeding women for lead. If the mother's blood lead level is 40 micrograms/dL or more, the CDC recommends breastfeeding mothers pump and discard their breast milk until after their blood lead level decreases below that benchmark.  

How could lead get into my home's tap water?

Measures and laws taken during the last 20 years have greatly decreased exposures to lead in tap water. Even so, lead still can be found in some metal water taps, interior water pipes, or pipes connecting a house to the main water pipe in the street. Lead found in tap water usually comes from the decay of older fixtures or from the solder that connects pipes. When water sits in leaded pipes for several hours, lead can trickle into the water supply.

How do I know if my tap water is contaminated with lead?

The only way to know whether your tap water contains lead is to have it tested. You cannot see, taste, or smell lead in water. Therefore, you must ask your water provider whether your water has lead in it. For homes served by public water systems, information on lead in tap water may be available from your local water authority. If your water provider does not post this information, you should call and find out.

You should be particularly suspicious if:

  • Your home has lead pipes (lead is a dull gray metal that is soft enough to be easily scratched with a house key)
  • You see signs of decay (frequent leaks, rust colored water, stained dishes or laundry, or if your nonplastic plumbing is less than five years old)

What if I have well water?

Well water should be tested for lead when the well is new and tested again when a pregnant woman, infant, or a child less than 18 years of age moves into the home. See Where We Stand: Testing of Well Water or the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement on drinking water from private wells. 

Will my pediatrician screen my child for lead exposure?

Yes. The AAP recommends all children be screened at one and two years of age for lead exposure. This is done through a blood test; the amount of lead measured in the blood can be used as a measure of the total amount in the body. See Where We Stand: Lead Screening.

If I am concerned, can I ask my pediatrician to screen my child for lead? 

Yes. While pediatricians will screen for elevated blood lead levels at one and two years of age, there are circumstances that may require a lead level screening at other times. This is especially true if a new exposure to lead occurs and your child becomes at risk for lead poisoning. Some pediatricians can screen your child for lead in their office by a finger stick. However, these tests can be falsely elevated and require a blood draw for confirmation. 

How can I reduce lead in the water my family drinks?

Try to get into the habit of following these simple safety steps:

  • If the water from the cold water faucet has not been used for more than 6 hours, such as overnight or after work or school, let it run 15 to 30 seconds before using it for drinking, cooking, or preparing beverages. You may want to fill a pitcher with water and keep it in the refrigerator for drinking during the same day.
  • Never drink, cook, or prepare beverages using water from the hot water faucet. Lead is likely to be highest in hot water. Additionally, do not use water from the hot water tap to make baby formula.
  • Avoid boiling water a long time when preparing beverages, especially infant formula. Excessive boiling water may increase the amount of lead in tap water due to evaporation.
  • Avoid using lead-based cookware. Lead can get into food during cooking. Note: Lead based cookware is most commonly made outside of the United States.
  • Consider using a filter. Check whether it reduces lead – not all filters do. Be sure to maintain and replace a filter device in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions to protect water quality. Contact NSF International for information on performance standards for water filters.

If my water has high lead levels, is it safe to take a bath or shower?

Yes. Bathing and showering should be safe for you and your children, even if the water contains lead over the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) action level of 15 ppb. Human skin does not absorb lead in water.

If my water has high lead levels, should I buy bottled water?

For homes with children or pregnant women and with water lead levels over the EPA's action level of 15 ppb, the CDC recommends using bottled water or water from a filtration system that has been certified by an independent testing organization to reduce or eliminate lead for cooking, drinking, and baby formula preparation. Because most bottled water does not contain fluoride, a fluoride supplement may be necessary. Discuss this with your child's pediatrician.

Additional Resources:

Additional Information from HealthyChildren.org:

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Last Updated

1/25/2016

Source

American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2016)

The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

 

All information provided by HealthChildren.org.  For additional information including links and audio, please go to the following web address:  https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Lead-in-Tap-Water-Household-Plumbing.aspx

 

11 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Be Physically Active
01-11-2016

Did You Know?

  • Only 1 in 3 children are physically active every day.
  • Less than 50% of the time spent in sports practice, games, and physical education class involves moving enough to be considered physical activity.
  • Children and teens spend more than 7 hours per day on average using TVs, computers, phones, and other electronic devices for entertainment.
  • About 1 out of 3 children is either overweight or obese in the United States.
  • Overweight teens have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.

Getting Started

Parents can play a key role in helping their child become more physically active. 

Here are 11 ways to get started:

  1. Talk with your child's doctor. Your child's doctor can help your child understand why physical activity is important. Your child's doctor can also suggest a sport or activity that is best for your child.
  2. Find a fun activity. Help your child find a sport that she enjoys. The more she enjoys the activity, the more likely she will continue it. Get the entire family involved. It is a great way to spend time together.
  3. Choose an activity that is developmentally appropriate. For example, a 7- or 8-year-old child is not ready for weight lifting or a 3-mile run, but soccer, bicycle riding, and swimming are all appro­priate activities.
  4. Plan ahead. Make sure your child has a convenient time and place to exercise.
  5. Provide a safe environment. Make sure your child's equipment and chosen site for the sport or activity are safe. Make sure your child's clothing is comfortable and appropriate.
  6. Provide active toys. Young children especially need easy access to balls, jump ropes, and other active toys.
  7. Be a role model. Children who regularly see their parents enjoying sports and physical activity are more likely to do so themselves.
  8. Play with your child. Help her learn a new sport.
  9. Turn off the TV. Limit TV watching and computer use. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 1 to 2 hours of total screen time, including TV, videos, computers, and video games, each day. Use the free time for more physical activities.
  10. Make time for exercise. Some children are so overscheduled with homework, music lessons, and other planned activities that they do not have time for exercise.
  11. Do not overdo it. When your child is ready to start, remember to tell her to listen to her body. Exercise and physical activity should not hurt. If this occurs, your child should slow down or try a less vigorous activity. As with any activity, it is important not to overdo it. If your child's weight drops below an average, acceptable level or if exercise starts to interfere with school or other activities, talk with your child's doctor.

Remember

Exercise along with a balanced diet provides the foundation for a healthy, active life. This is even more important for children who are obese. One of the most important things parents can do is encourage healthy habits in their children early on in life. It is not too late to start. Ask your child's doctor about tools for healthy living today. 

Additional Information:


 Last Updated

11/18/2015

Source

Encourage Your Child to Be Physically Active (Copyright © 2003 American Academy of Pediatrics, Updated 10/2015)

The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

 

All information provided by HealthyChildren.org.  For additional information including links and audio, please go to the following website:  https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/fitness/Pages/Encouraging-Your-Child-to-be-Physically-Active.aspx

 

Healthy New Year's Resolutions for Kids
01-04-2016

The start of the new year is a great time to help your children focus on forming good habits. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides the following list of ideas for you to talk to your children about trying, depending on their age. ​

Preschoolers

  • I will clean up​ my toys by putting them where they belong. 
  • I will let my parents help me  brush my teeth twice a day.
  • I will wash my hands after going to the bathroom and before eating.
  • I will help clear the table when I am done eating. 
  • I will be friendly to all animals. I will remember to ask the owners if I can pet their animal first.
  • I will be nice to other kids who need a friend or look sad or lonely.
  • I will talk with my parent or a trusted adult when I need help or am scared.

Kids, 5 to 12 years old

  • I will drink reduced-fat milk​ and water every day, and drink soda and fruit drinks only at special times.
  • I will take care of my skin by putting on sunscreen before I go outdoors on bright, sunny days. I will try to stay in the shade whenever possible and wear a hat and sunglasses, especially when I'm playing sports.
  • I will try to find a sport (like basketball or soccer) or an activity (like playing tag, jumping rope, dancing or riding my bike) that I like and do it at least three times a week!
  • I will always wear a helmet when riding a bike, scooter or skateboard.
  • I will wear my seat belt every time I get in a car. I'll sit in the back seat and use a booster seat until I am tall enough to use a lap/shoulder seat belt.
  • I'll be friendly to kids who may have a hard time making friends by asking them to join activities such as sports or games.
  • I will always tell an adult about any bullying I may see or hear about to help keep school safe for everyone. 
  • I will keep my personal information safe and not share my name, home address, school name or telephone number on the Internet. Also, I'll never send a picture of myself to someone I chat with on the computer without asking my parent if it is okay. 
  • I will try to talk with my parent or a trusted adult when I have a problem or feel stressed.
  • I promise to follow our household rules for videogames and internet use.

Kids, 13 years old and older

  • I will try to eat two servings of fruit and two servings of vegetables every day, and I will drink sodas only at special times.
  • I will take care of my body through physical activity and eating the right types and amounts of foods.
  • I will choose non-violent television shows and video games, and I will spend only one to two hours each day – at the most – on these activities. I promise to follow our household rules for videogames and internet use.
  • I will help out in my community – through giving some of my time to help others, working with community groups or by joining a group that helps people in need.
  • When I feel angry or stressed out, I will take a break and find helpful ways to deal with the stress, such as exercising, reading, writing in a journal or talking about my problem with a parent or friend.
  • When faced with a difficult decision, I will talk about my choices with an adult whom I can trust.
  • When I notice my friends are struggling, being bullied or making risky choices, I will talk with a trusted adult and attempt to find a way that I can help them.
  • I will be careful about whom I choose to date, and always treat the other person with respect and without forcing them to do something or using violence. I will expect to be treated the same way in return.
  • I will resist peer pressure to try tobacco-cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol. I will also avoid the use of e-cigarettes
  • I agree not to use a cell phone or text message while driving and to always use a seat belt.

Additional Information: 

 

Published

12/16/2015 12:00 AM

 

All information provided by HealthyChildren.org.  For additional information including links and audio, please go to the following web address:  https://www.healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/Healthy-New-Years-Resolutions-for-Kids.aspx

 

 

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