DOVER, Del. - It can be found in some of your child's toys. If they're exposed, it can cause serious health problems. Lead exposure often occurs with no obvious symptoms, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it frequently goes unrecognized.
Researchers say at least 4 million households have children living in them that are being exposed to lead.
"It can cause severe developmental problems, learning disabilities and can be a very dangerous situation," said Dr. Julia Pillsbury, a pediatrician at the Center for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine in Dover.
Pillsbury says in her 20 years as a pediatrician, she's never personally treated a child with lead poisoning.
For health care workers around the U.S., that thought may soon change.
Congress recently cut funding to local health departments that fund lead prevention services.
That means, kids with a dangerous level of lead in their blood may not receive the services they need.
On top of that, more children could be at risk.
A CDC advisory panel recommended that the blood level threshold be lowered for diagnosing lead poisoning from 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood to five.
Experts say if the recommendation is accepted, the number of children diagnosed with high blood levels would double.
A spokesperson from the Delaware Division of Public Health says their agency won't face any cutbacks.
Megan Werner with the Westside Family Healthcare in Wilmington released a statement reading in part - "Although resource availability is often a challenge, we look forward to continuing to partner with the Delaware Division of Public Health to connect our patients to the services they need to stay healthy, and to use the resources we have available in the way that will be most effective."
"We have what we consider risk levels and that generate an investigation to try to identify the source of the lead exposure," said Pillsbury.
Others who live in Dover say lead poison prevention efforts are getting better.
"Where I worked, we had a lot of cases of it, but I believe that in the last 20 years, they have improved," said Ellen Dunn of Dover.
Dunn says she used to work in a hospital where there were multiple cases of lead poisoning that resulted in older model homes containing lead paint.
"We had a lot of cases of kids that were attacked with this situation, and they (researchers) did a study on it," said Dunn.
Dunn says back then, many of the paint companies changed their ingredients to make paint safer.
Pillsbury says getting children screened early for lead poisoning is key.
"I think it's through the rigorous screening that we do that we're able to identify by some of these previously recognized sources of lead exposure to children," said Pillsbury.
For more information on how you can protect yourself and your child from being exposed to lead poisoning, log onto to www.cdc.gov.
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