Bridgeport mom raises awareness about effects of lead poisoning in children
A Bridgeport mom is helping to promote awareness about lead poisoning and how it can impact children.
Jessica DeJesus, 36, says her three kids are the center of her universe. Her youngest is 14-month-old Yeshani.
"She's like a little monkey. She climbs everywhere, she's amazing," says DeJesus. "Yeshani is a very happy child, she's always wandering around."
DeJesus says she was terrified when she recently found out that Yeshani had tested positive for lead in her blood, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says can be harmful or, in severe cases, fatal.
Dr. Lee Forest, who has a practice in Stratford, says early symptoms of lead poisoning in kids may include headaches, abdominal pain or loss of appetite. He says long-term effects may include permanent damage to the brain and nervous system.
"At first, at lower levels, you're not going to see anything but as the child grows, if there's continuous exposure, it might lower their IQ, they might not do as well in school," says Forest.
He says while he typically begins screening kids at 12 months, parents should get their kids tested earlier if there are concerns.
City Councilman Jorge Cruz represents the district where DeJesus lives. He says Bridgeport parents in particular need to be educated about the effects of lead because most Bridgeport homes were built before 1978, when lead-based paints in the U.S. were banned for residential use. Lead can be spread through flaking paint.
City officials say the Bridgeport Health Department works to educate local families and to prevent exposure.
For more information on ways to prevent lead poisoning, click here.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help DeJesus relocate. Click here to donate.