Worried about lead poisoning? Get kids tested
SEOUL — Officials at U.S. military hospitals across the Pacific said parents who are concerned about recent toy recalls can have their children tested for lead exposure.
Military exchange stores last week pulled certain Mattel toys in response to the company’s massive recall of nearly 1 million toys suspected of containing lead-based paint. The Army and Air Force Exchange Service, Navy Exchange and Marine Corps Exchange all carried toys included in the recall.
All toys in the recall, sold under the company’s Fisher-Price brand name, were produced in China between April 19 and July 6. The toymaker used a “non-approved paint pigment containing lead,” according to a press release from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
In addition, AAFES has recalled five Toy Century products, sold under the AAFES in-store “Soldier Bear” brand, in recent months because of lead-based paint concerns. Toy Century is a Hong Kong-based distributor.
Many base medical officials contacted Friday said infants are regularly screened for lead exposure during routine checkups.
On U.S. bases in South Korea, parents are provided with “The Well Baby Handbook,” which provides an overview of the screening process and a seven-question questionnaire that parents and medical personnel fill out during an infant’s six-month checkup and during yearly physicals between ages 2 and 6.
“If all answers are negative, then your child is probably at low risk for lead poisoning,” the book states.
But if a parent answers yes to questions such as “Does this child live with an adult whose job or hobby involves exposure to lead?” or “Do you use home or folk remedies such as alarcon, Alkohl, Axarcon, Bali Goli, Coral Ghasard, Greta, Liga, Pay-loo-ah, or Reuda?” a blood lead level test may need to be performed, according to the handbook.
And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that “all children have a blood lead level drawn at 12 months of age, and again at 24 months if resources permit, unless your area has been found to be low risk,” according to the handbook.
Officials with U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa said Friday that a few concerned parents have requested tests for their children following the recent recall, but that “all tests to date have been normal.”
The 121st Combat Support Hospital at Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, can test children for blood lead levels, and military hospitals at Yokosuka Naval Base, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Yokota Air Base and Misawa Air Base — all on mainland Japan — can test children if the parents have concerns, officials said Friday.
The medical clinic at Sasebo Naval Base, Japan, however, cannot conduct testing.
Acute symptoms of lead poisoning — from ingestion or exposure to high levels of lead — can include fatigue, irritability, headaches and gastrointestinal problems, and long-term exposure for children can result in impaired physical and intellectual development, according to the Okinawa hospital officials.
Stars and Stripes reporters Vince Little, Allison Batdorff, Jennifer H. Svan, Jimmy Norris, Teri Weaver and Will Morris contributed to this report.