Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 12:53PM
Lead Poisoning Prevention
Child Dies of Lead Poisoning from Metal Charm
- The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) offers
its condolences to the family of a four-year-old Minneapolis child who
died February 22 of lead poisoning after swallowing a metal charm containing
very high levels of lead. This is the first documented death of a child
from lead poisoning in Minnesota. This is a very rare occurrence, not
only in Minnesota but nationwide.
- While we cannot release specific information about
the child, we can report that the child was first brought to the hospital
with vomiting on February 16, returned and was hospitalized on February
18, and was tested for lead only after a metal object was seen on abdominal
x-ray. The child’s blood lead level was 180 ug/dL. The MDH state
guidelines specify a blood lead of 60 ug/dL or greater to be a medical
emergency. A level of 10 ug/dL or above is considered elevated.
- Laboratory testing shows that the heart-shaped charm
contained 99 percent lead. A similar Reebok heart-shaped charm attached
to a bracelet sold with children’s shoes obtained and tested by
the Minneapolis Department of Regulatory Services contained 67 percent
lead. The Consumer Products Safety Commission allows no more than 0.06
percent lead in jewelry sold in the United States.
- In conjunction with MDH and the Hennepin County
Medical Examiner, CDC has prepared a Morbidity
and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Dispatch about this lead poisoning
death. The MMWR has further details about the case, including more information
for medical providers.
- Reebok charms have been recalled by the Consumer
Products Safety Commission. Further information is available at their
As of 3/24/06 Shoes Containing the Charm Were Still Available for Sale
in Chicago and may still be for sale in other areas.
- Health care providers should consider lead poisoning
as a possible diagnosis if young children present with symptoms of increased
intracranial pressure, unexplained gastric symptoms, and a history of
eating or mouthing non-food objects.
- Consumers who have purchased shoes with heart-shaped
metallic charm bracelets should keep the charm bracelet away
from children, especially infants and toddlers who often place
items in their mouths. The charm bracelet should be disposed of by taking
it to a household hazardous waste collection site. In the meantime,
be sure to keep any suspected lead jewelry away from children. A list
hazardous waste collection sites is available from the Minnesota
Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).
- Childhood lead poisoning is still a serious public
health problem, but by far the greatest source of exposure in Minnesota
is deteriorating lead paint or lead dust in housing built before 1978.
In 2004, approximately 1,500 children had blood lead levels of 10 ug/dL
or greater and 122 with 20 ug/dL or greater. This is a substantial decrease
over the last 10 years.
- It is unlikely that simply wearing jewelry containing
lead will cause elevated blood lead levels. However, you should wash
your hands after handling suspected lead-containing jewelry to avoid
any oral exposure. There is no way to determine that an item of jewelry
contains lead without destroying it.
- Lead poisoning resulting from consumer products
is rarely reported. However, the CPSC has issued previous product recalls
for several types of children’s toys or jewelry that have been
manufactured with high lead content. The CPSC has also established a
policy on lead in children’s metal jewelry. (See www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml05/05097.html.)