How Lead Poisoning Could Cause Long-Term Damage to the Brain

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Lead Paint Poisoning Published on February 16, 2022 and updated on March 15, 2022.

peeling green paint on wallLead is highly toxic to humans. In fact, there is no safe level of blood lead concentration. Even a small concentration of lead in the body can lead to severe injuries.

While lead poisoning can lead to problems in multiple systems of the body, one of the biggest concerns with lead exposure is the potential for severe brain damage. Below, we discuss how lead poisoning may affect the brain and have long-term consequences, particularly in children, as their brains are still developing.

If you were exposed to lead due to another’s negligence, such as the negligence of a property owner, landlord or another party, our experienced attorneys may be able to help you seek compensation for your damages.

We have obtained millions on behalf of lead poisoning victims and are ready to help you. Our Maryland-based lead paint poisoning lawyers do not charge upfront fees, which means there is no financial risk in using our services.

How Can Lead Exposure Injure the Brain?

The human body has a blood-brain barrier (BBB) that is designed to prevent toxins in the body from reaching the brain and doing damage. The BBB is a group of blood vessels that separate the blood running through your body from brain fluid.

Unfortunately, lead is one of the substances that can penetrate this barrier and do irreparable damage. In fact, lead can not only break through the barrier, but it can also make the barrier more permeable. That means the brain becomes more vulnerable to toxic substances in the future.

While there is no safe level of exposure, significant exposure can cause significant damage. Fluid may accumulate and cause extreme intracranial pressure. That may result in encephalopathy and brain damage that cannot be reversed.

Lead mimics calcium’s function in passing signals between neurons in the brain. Lead competes with calcium as it tries to move into another neuron. That means less calcium can enter the next neuron. This results in a weaker signal. This can have significant consequences for your memory and ability to learn new things.

Those who suffer brain damage from lead exposure may have impairment of their visual-motor reasoning skills. They may have attention deficit disorders and impaired cognitive ability.

Why Lead Exposure is so Dangerous for Children

Lead is toxic no matter your age, but children are particularly vulnerable to lead. In fact, young children absorb four or five times as much lead as adults when they are exposed to it (children consume more food and water in relation to their size than adults). Lead changes how neurons interact and can cause cell death, which irreversibly damages the developing brain.

If a child gets exposed to a significant amount of lead, it may cause a coma, convulsions or death. If a child does not die from exposure to a high level of lead, he or she may develop severe intellectual disabilities and/or behavioral disorders.

However, even at low levels of exposure, lead poisoning can have long-term consequences. Research shows adults who suffered lead poisoning as children had smaller brain volume. For example, these individuals may have a smaller prefrontal cortex, which controls fine motor skills and executive functioning.

Damage to the prefrontal cortex may affect:

  • Awareness
  • Impulse control
  • Verbal reasoning
  • Emotional regulation
  • Ability to pay attention
  • Mental flexibility

Children who suffered lead exposure may need special education and assistance when they are in school and social settings. They often have a lower IQ and may also suffer mental retardation.

In some ways, young children are more likely to be exposed to lead because they have an innate curiosity and tendency to put a lot of things into their mouths. They could put lead-contaminated objects in their mouths or even swallow them. Children could even put contaminated soil in their mouths.

Some children have a psychological disorder that causes them to persistently and compulsive crave non-food items. They may pick paint away from walls, furniture and door frames. Unfortunately, once lead is ingested it may be stored in the teeth and bones. Lead that is stored in bones may get released during pregnancy, causing the unborn baby to be exposed.

Can Parents Take Steps to Mitigate Lead Poisoning?

There are medications that may help to remove lead from a child’s body, helping to lower the risk of severe side effects. However, early detection of lead poisoning is crucial. You also need to remove yourself or your child from the place where lead poisoning occurred.

There are numerous symptoms to watch for:

  • Lost appetite
  • Seizures
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue

Treatment for lead poisoning can be extremely expensive, particularly when the damage is more severe. That is one reason why victims may want to consider legal action to seek compensation for medical expenses and other damages.

While lead poisoning damage is usually irreversible, treatment may help victims achieve a better quality of life.

Call to Schedule Your Free Legal Consultation to Discuss Your Claim

Have you or a loved one been injured by exposure to lead paint?

You may be able to file a claim to seek compensation for your damages. Our experienced attorneys are ready to discuss your situation and determine if you may be able to file a claim. An initial legal consultation is free and if you decide to hire our firm, there are no upfront fees.

We have a proven track record in lead poisoning cases, including a recovery of $3 million for a woman who was exposed to lead as a child.

Contact The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl today. Call 410-907-3957.