Risk Factors Associated with Lead Poisoning among Children Aged 2-6 Years in Gaza Governorates
Mohamed Jamal Safi
محمد جمال محمد صافي
Childhood lead toxicity is an international problem and the prevalence of lead toxicity is largely determined by age and proximity to environmental sources. Children are more vulnerable to lead exposure because of the frequency of pica and hand-to-mouth activities and because children have a greater rate of intestinal absorption and retention of lead. It has deleterious effects, not only on the gastrointestinal tract but also on the central nervous system and kidneys. Lead is damaging also to the red blood cells. These manifestations can be serious and can lead to coma and death in acute poisoning. Risk factors associated with lead poisoning among children aged 2-6 years in Gaza Governorates as case control study were studied. The overall aim of the study was to identify the common risk factors associated with lead poisoning among children and also aimed to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of lead. The study design was a quantitative analytical retrospective case control study. The study subjects were 240, in which 120 were cases selected from children with Blood Lead Level (BLL) ≥ 10 µg/dl and 120 were controls selected from children with BLL ≤ 9.9 µg/dl. These information are stored in a data base at the Environmental Protection and Research Institute (EPRI-Gaza). Socio-demographic variables illustrated that 152 (63.3%) were males and 88 (36.7 %) were females. The age of study subjects was classified into two groups. The first one (51.7 %) was 24-48 months, while the second one (48.3 %) was 49-72 months. The majority of study subjects were in Gaza Governorate (50%), while the smallest one was in Rafah Governorate (6.7 %). Data were statistically analyzed using SPSS version 16. Statistical analysis of capillary BLL of the samples indicated that the minimum and maximum was 3.2 and 65.1 ìg /dl respectively with mean level of 10.19 ìg /dl and median level 9.95 ìg /dl. The study results demonstrated statistical significant relationship between BLL of the study subjects and some independent variables of risk factors such as familial exposure including kohl by child in long period; household location from exposure sources including smelter, battery recycling, radiator repair and other lead sources; household distance from exposure sources including smelter, battery manufacturing and recycling and gas station; occupational exposure including painting works; child feeding and day care including child out home; and child health including child general health, child needs frequent medical care and child have anemia. The study results also pointed out that there are no statistical significant relationship between the BLL of the study subjects and variables of socio demographic, household exposure, period of occupational exposure, work clothes and showering (different protective occupational measures), tasks, crafts and hobbies at home (different familial exposure), and the child habits. Therefore, the study recommends childhood lead poisoning prevention policies to be initiated and implemented. Provide anticipatory guidance to parents of all infants and toddlers about preventing lead poisoning in their children. Removal of all nearby battery recycling and manufacturing plants/smelters, and auto radiator repair workshops located in the middle of highly populated urban areas, markets and dwelling zones is highly recommended. Children with high BLL more than 25 µg/dl should be treated and followed-up. Finally, decision-makers should introduce public awareness and educational programs to child sponsors and all levels of the interested personal about risk factors associated with lead poisoning and sources of lead xposure and its impact on human health.