Archives for posts with tag: CDC

From the Associated Press:

For the first time in 20 years, a federal panel is urging the government to lower the threshold for lead poisoning in children.

If adopted, hundreds of thousands more children could be diagnosed with lead poisoning. Too much lead is harmful to developing brains and can mean a lower IQ.

Recent research persuaded panel members that children could be harmed from lead levels in their blood that are lower than the current standard, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

While the number of cases has been falling, health officials think as many as 250,000 children have the problem, many of those undiagnosed. The proposed change could take it to 450,000 cases.

Wednesday’s vote by the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention would lower the definition of lead poisoning for young children from 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood to 5 micrograms. The CDC has accepted all of the panel’s recommendations in the past.

Lead — a metal that for years was common in paint and gasoline — can harm a child’s brain, kidneys and other organs. High levels in the blood can cause coma, convulsions and death. Lower levels can reduce intelligence, impair hearing and behavior and cause other problems.

Usually, the victims are children living in old homes that are dilapidated or under renovation, who pick up paint chips or dust and put it in their mouths. Lead has been banned in paint since 1978. Children have also picked up lead poisoning from soil contaminated by old leaded gasoline, and from dust tracked in from industrial worksites.

Lead poisoning is detected through a blood test, often when kids are toddlers. Most cases are handled by seeking out and removing the lead source, and monitoring the children to make sure lead levels stay down. A special treatment to remove lead and other heavy metals is used for very high levels.

But the problem has seemed to be diminishing, based on the old standard. In 2009, researchers reported that 1.4 percent of young children had elevated lead levels in their blood in 2004, the latest data available. That compares with almost 9 percent in 1988.

The lead poisoning threshold was last changed in 1991. The proposed level of 5 micrograms was calculated from the highest lead levels seen in a comprehensive annual U.S. health survey. The panel recommended that it be reassessed every four years.

“It’s a moving target,” said Perry Gottesfeld, co-chair of the group that came up with the advice.

Some groups celebrated the decision, saying medical evidence has been mounting that lower levels of lead poisoning can erode a child’s ability to learn and cause behavior problems.

“This is long overdue,” said Ruth Ann Norton, executive director of the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, a Baltimore-based organization.

The recommendation might be difficult to implement. In many places, it’s up to city and county health departments to provide many of the services for lead poisoned kids, and those departments have lost more than 34,000 jobs in the last three years because of budget cuts. Meanwhile, Congress just slashed the CDC’s lead program from more than $30 million to $2 million.

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Image from Flickr.

From Chemical & Engineering News:

Bisphenol A—an estrogen-mimicking chemical found in baby bottles, food containers, and household electronics—has been linked to a host of health problems in animals and people. Now researchers have detected it in the environment and urine of young children, revealing that preschoolers absorb BPA primarily through the food they eat.

Manufacturers use BPA to make plastics and epoxy resins, and BPA can leach from products containing these materials into food, beverages, dust, and air. Numerous studies, mostly conducted on animals, have linked high levels of the endocrine-disrupting chemical to conditions such as cancer, obesity, heart disease, infertility, and neurological disease.

Although scientists think that developing organisms are the most susceptible to BPA’s potential toxic effects, few studies have examined BPA exposure in young children, says Linda Sheldon, associate director at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. So in 2000 and 2001, Sheldon, Marsha Morgan, an EPA research scientist, and their colleagues joined forces to measure children’s exposures to BPA and other chemicals in an EPA study called Children’s Total Exposure to Persistent Pesticides and Other Persistent Organic Pollutants (CTEPP). They collected samples of solid and liquid foods, air, dust, and soil from the homes and daycare centers of 257 children between the ages of 2 and 5 in North Carolina and Ohio.

. . . . The researchers showed that the children’s solid and liquid foods contained the highest amounts of BPA. However, says Morgan, “at the time we collected the samples, we weren’t able to quantify BPA in urine with existing analytical methods.” Scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed a mass spectrometric method to do just that, so Morgan and Sheldon sent a subset of frozen urine samples to CDC scientists for analysis.

Consistent with studies done in other countries, the researchers detected BPA in all of the 81 urine samples from preschool-aged children in Ohio. However, even the highest urinary BPA concentration measured, 0.21 mg/L, was well below the maximum level EPA considers safe: 2 mg/L BPA in human urine. The researchers used statistical analysis to show that the children’s excreted amounts of urinary BPA correlated with the doses they received through their food. The team discovered that dietary ingestion accounted for more than 95% of the BPA excreted in the preschoolers’ urine.

[Upstream Expert] Carlos Sonnenschein, a cell biologist at Tufts University School of Medicine, commends the researchers for their “rigorous experimental approach.” He says, “I consider this paper of great importance because it conveys evidence necessary for public health officials and politicians to react” and develop regulations that will keep BPA out of food.

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From Port Huron Times Herald:

Five children in southeastern St. Clair County have been diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer in the past four years, and officials are trying to find out why.

The answer so far: They’re investigating.

This isn’t the first time the St. Clair County Health Department has investigated reports of a cancer cluster — or this possible cluster involving Wilms’ tumor, a cancer which is diagnosed in about 550 cases annually in the United States.

The county began an investigation in 2009 into the incidence of Wilms’ tumor, said Susan Amato, the department’s director of health education and planning. The state Department of Community Health determined further investigation wasn’t needed, she said.

Several years before that investigation, the county health department contracted for a firm to research a possible link between petroleum refining in Chemical Valley and cancer in St. Clair County. No conclusive evidence was found, Amato said.

Officials reopened the 2009 investigation after the latest case of Wilms’ tumor — Ireland Kulman, a 6-month-old girl from Marine City who was diagnosed in March — sparked concerns within the community.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, a cancer cluster is a greater-than-expected number of cancer cases that occurs within a group of people in a geographic area during a period of time. According to the CDC’s website, cases are more likely to represent a cluster if they involve one type of cancer, a rare type of cancer or a type of cancer in a group not usually affected by that cancer.

But determining if a number of cancer cases in an area constitutes a cluster is not easy . . . .

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