Health experts warn parents need to think about neurological effects of lead poisoning, not just physical

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KENMORE, N.Y. (WIVB) – School districts across the region are scrambling to address high lead levels in some of their water.  Parents have been notified and the fixtures have been shut down for repair or replacement.

School districts have taken quick action to stop students from being physically exposed to lead. But what happens next?

If a student is exposed to lead they can be at risk for developing learning disabilities, and health leaders say parents need to be on high alert for this.

Mike Helman works with the Learning Disabilities Association of Western New York and is also a part of LDA of America. He was tasked with putting together a response program for kids in Flint, Michigan after lead was found in drinking water there.

Helman says if a child tests positive for lead, they should be evaluated not from a health standpoint but from a neurological standpoint. He also says under federal and state law there are early intervention services available through the school district.

Helman says the scary reality is a true learning disability associated with lead poisoning may not surface for two to three years. Helman said, “It’s almost like a wait to fail methodology. I think parents should be really aggresive with their school districts and say, “my child came back and tested positive for lead. I think the child should be put into early intervention services and not wait for that failure to occur later on.”

There are things you can do at home to work on literacy skills if your child tests positive for lead.  Helman says reading often at a young age can stop brain development issues from getting worse.

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