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National Child Safety Expert, Alison Rhodes, “The Safety Mom,” is one of the country's leading child safety authorities, providing tips and advice to parents on a broad range of issues facing all children - newborns to teens.

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How Healthy is Your Home?
by Alison Rhodes

As moms, it can feel as if we deal with endless cycles of coughs and runny noses. But what if the cause of all these colds is not our child's friend at school or the germ-laden grocery cart they touched? Perhaps what's making them sick is their very own home. Two major culprits are mold and lead.

Where Does Mold Grow?

Mold can be found in any area of your home where moisture levels are elevated:

  • Basements
  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Ceilings and wall interiors where water from leaky pipes or roof leakage can accumulate

What Are The Symptoms?

Infants and children are most susceptible to allergens from mold exposure and their symptoms can be confused for a cold:

  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Cough
  • Wheeze/breathing difficulties
  • Sore throat

You can help lower mold levels by reducing the humidity in your home, using mold-reducing products and keeping items in your home as dry as possible. Be on the lookout for the more obvious signs of possible growth, such as musty smells or watermarks on walls and ceilings. Once mold is detected it needs to be removed immediately and the source of the moisture be identified and eliminated.

Get The Lead Out!

Lead is highly toxic and especially dangerous for children under 7, whose major organs have not fully developed. If your home was constructed prior to 1978, there is a high likelihood that lead-based paint was used. And, until Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1988, lead solder was used extensively in residential water piping.

Lead paint in your home is a hazard even if it isn't peeling, chipping or cracking when it's on high-use, high-friction surfaces including:

  • Windows and window sills
  • Doors and door frames
  • Stairs, railings and banisters
  • Porches and fences

What are The Symptoms?

Even low levels of lead exposure can cause permanent neurological damage in children including:

  • Nervous system and kidney damage
  • Learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder and decreased intelligence
  • Speech, language abnd behavior problems
  • Poor muscle coordination
  • Hearing damage

Immediate symptoms can also, like mold exposure, appear like cold and flu symptoms - tiredness, irritability, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping and constipation.

If you suspect your child has been exposed to lead you should contact your pediatrician immediately.

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Featured Sites:

Cord Blood Registry
March of Dimes
Susan G. Komen

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