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The goal of Lead Safe Babies is ensuring that children never become lead poisoned. Over 95% of the homes in Philadelphia contain lead, and over 3,000 children had high blood lead levels in 2006. Lead can harm a child for the rest of his life. Recipient of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Children’s Environmental Health Award in 2005, the Lead Safe Babies program provides new mothers with the necessary education and materials needed to keep their children free from lead poisoning.
Ingesting lead is particularly harmful to pregnant women and newborn children. Lead Safe Babies specifically focuses on fetal development through the early years of a child’s life. Outreach workers from NNCC and NNCC member nurse-led health centers visit mothers with children under one year of age in their homes to:
Educate them about how they can prevent their children from becoming lead poisoned. Sample suggestions include washing children’s toys, cleaning surfaces weekly, and avoiding peeling paint.
Take samples of dust from these homes for laboratory analysis.
Give mothers a “lead reduction bucket” filled with cleaning supplies to help remind them to wipe surfaces and eliminate dust to prevent their children from ingesting lead. Lead reduction buckets also contain crayons, lead education coloring books for the children, and other educational materials.
Outreach workers then follow up with the caregivers just before the baby reaches nine months of age to encourage caregivers to get their children screened for lead poisoning.
NNCC works closely with the City of Philadelphia’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP), a national leader in reducing lead in homes. A high result of lead in the dust can trigger additional resources for improving a family’s home environment. Our partnership with the city ensures that families needing improvements in their homes can be connected quickly and successfully to remediation (free repairs) by CLPPP.
Lead Safe Babies is currently supported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Remediation by CLPPP is supported through the U.S. Housing and Urban Development agency.
To date outreach staff have visited more than 10,000 families in their homes, collecting data that have shown Lead Safe Babies successfully reduces lead ingestion in children.
Pre- and post-test data showing a statistically significant increase in lead poisoning prevention knowledge of the caregivers; and
A clinically significant lower blood level in children participating in the Lead Safe Babies program as compared to children in the same communities not participating in the program.
NNCC strives to meet the U.S. Healthy People 2010 goal to eliminate lead poisoning in children. Lead Safe Babies has been replicated in other communities both urban and rural. Lead Safe Babies is an important enhancement to primary care in communities with houses with pre-1978 paint. Please contact us to find out more about this evidence-based program and how it would improve health in your community.