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Notes from the Field: Childhood Lead Poisoning Associated with Turmeric Spices

12 Nov 2021 11:13 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

...findings support other reports of lead-contaminated turmeric in the United States (1,2) and highlight the diverse pathways through which children can be exposed to lead. They underscore the importance of a multidisciplinary approach and communication between health care providers and health department staff members in identifying potential links among lead poisoning cases, and the need for health care facilities to be prepared to respond to cases of lead poisoning. [CDC 11.12.2021] 

The national blood lead reference level had been 5 μg/dL but was lowered to 3.5 μg/dL in October 2021 (3). There is no safe BLL in children (4); BLLs once thought to pose little to no risk have shown to be risk factors for reading problems, intellectual delays, school failure, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, and antisocial behavior (3,57). Whereas the impact of lead exposure might be irreversible, exposure is preventable.¶,** Clinicians and public health professionals should be aware of risks outside traditional lead exposures (e.g., paint, dust, and contaminated soil). Adulteration of turmeric has reportedly been a source of lead exposure in other countries (1), where lead is purposefully added to enhance weight and color (2). Referrals for lead-risk assessments should emphasize same-day assessments when possible to reduce continued exposure to and absorption of lead. Public health officials and health care providers should work together to ensure the sources of lead exposure have been identified and controlled before chelation therapy is started. Health care providers who are unfamiliar with chelation therapy should consult with their regional pediatric environmental health specialty unit or poison control center for assistance.

Download PDF of full CDC article here

For full CDC article, click here. 


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