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The story of our precious little girl's 17 months of life with Trisomy 18 (July 4, 2010 - December 15, 2011) and of us, re-learning to live "after Lilly."
"I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made ...." Psalm 139:14

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Mystery of Solomon's High Lead Levels

"We're from the government and we're here to help."

I've seen those words in enough legal briefs and court opinions to make me very, very wary and even a little nervous if they are concerning me.

Yesterday they were.  At 11:00 in the morning, two employees from the Chatham County Health Department knocked on our door.

Who was the target of their visit?

I'm innocent I tell ya!
Last fall, at Solomon's check up with the pediatrician, his iron and lead levels were tested.  (Routine testing at that age.)  Results were that his iron was too low and his lead level a little high.  Those two things can be related.  So I began giving Solomon herbal iron drops each day.  It worked - last month during a re-test, his iron levels had risen nicely.  But unfortunately, the lead level had not dropped.  Not nicely.  Not at all.  It rose a bit more.  It was a "5".  (Anything above "3" starts to become a concern.)

Good thing I read Nancy Drew books as a child, and was used to medical mysteries with Lilly, so I took on the case.  First thing was to have Hunter tested to see if this problem was larger than Solomon.  His results came back shortly after Christmas.  No lead levels to speak of.  Very very good news.

Next I started Solomon on a detox, to see if we can get his lead levels down.  (He's to be re-tested in March.)  I did some internet research, and also consulted with Mountain Meadow Herbs.  (This company had a fascinating beginning - it was with a mother trying desperately to find treatment for her son.  She wrote a book called A Mother's Guide to Herbal Extracts:  Saving Tristan and you can get this book for free here.)  From all of that I put my detox plan into action.

Here is the lead detox I am doing, if you are interested.  Each day I give Solomon:  Herbal Calcium (calcium and magnesium compete with lead for absorption), SuperKids multivitamin (Selenium, Vitamins A, B1, C all help excrete lead), and fermented cod liver oil (fish oils counteract lead and protect blood cells.  I'm stopped giving him dairy products because even though calcium is helpful, dairy products apparently increase lead absorption.  I also read Fluoride can enhance retention, but this isn't an issue for us as we're on well water and I use the Berkey water filter.  Though I have not done it yet, I am going to bathe Solomon in bentonite clay. Finally, I am being sure he eats a lot of foods high in iron and calcium.  Oh and a lot of handwashing throughout the day.

I think I could really do without that icky fish oil ...
Back to our government officials from the county health department.  They were flagged when LabCorp repeated Solomon's tests.  The visit with them actually was very educational.  The county we live in is one of 3 counties in our state that has an aggressive lead detection program so they had a lot of information.

It takes only 1 teaspoon of lead dust to poison a child.  It must be inhaled or digested.  Obviously Solomon still puts a lot of things in his mouth and chews on his fingers, so this is easy for him to do.

We live in a beautiful old farmhouse, built in about 1907.  However, it was re-done in the later 1970s.  But is there pre-1978 lead paint still in here?  I'm not sure.  The previous owners painted too.  Nothing is peeling though, and Solomon doesn't go around chewing on the walls or window sills.  Vinyl mini blinds made before 1997 are a huge concern for many - the lead laiden dust from them blows all around when they are raised or lowered.  But that doesn't seem to be an issue here as we have shades and fabric blinds.

Lead can be in the ground, from the leaded gasoline of the past.  Guess what - one of the men who lived here way back when - was a mechanic.  Relatives of his told us he would have a line of old cars across the back of the yard that he was repairing and selling.  (Remains of one car is in our woods!)  Maybe that is it?  Solomon has been known to eat dirt on occasion.  But really not very often.

Fresh country dirt ... delicious!
Toys?  Solomon and Hunter have a box of matchbox cars that my brothers and I had when we were little.  They're probably chock full of lead.  Furniture?  Quite a bit of the furniture we have is from my mother-in-laws antique shop.  The paint is cracked on some.  But how old is that paint?

So you see we have lots of questions.  It's time to bring in ... the BIG GUN.

Literally.  Yesterday I consented to having the government officials come back soon with a man with a gun.  A lead detection gun.  It is a 35K gun that he points at objects and gets lead level readings.  He will spend 2-3 hours in our home "shooting" things and also check our soil and water.  Lord willing, he will find the answer.  (I was assured he only looks for lead and isn't looking for other problems - like things not "up to code."  I wasn't thinking about that, but apparently a lot of people have worried about that.)

Out of curiosity, I asked the officials yesterday what kind of things they had found lead in in their investigations.  Here are some things:  keys (keys are full of lead! don't let your baby chew on your keys.), antique furniture, ceramic dishes, fishing weights, painted boards that people burn in fireplaces, and a variety of toys - from dolls to backpacks.

Lord willing, we will have answers soon.  I will share them here with the hopes that they might help someone else out there dealing with this.

In the meantime, we'd be blessed if you would remember Solomon in your prayers.  That his lead levels would come down and we would find the source of the problem.  Thank you!

UPDATE:  I should have noted this.  Solomon's lead level is NOT dangerous.  It is only at the "ALERT!" stage.  Kids have a level of about 55 before they receive medication. 

Also, in case you don't know, too much lead in the body - lead poisoning - is bad because it can cause:  decreased bone and muscle growth,poor muscle coordination, damage to the nervous system, kidneys, and/or hearing, speech and language problems, developmental delay, and/or seizures and unconsciousness (in cases of extremely high lead levels).  (Source: Kids Health.)

If you have ever dealt with this issue before I'd love to hear from you with any hints!


  1. Oh I am glad you posted this. We were supposed to test Jojo at his last appointment and did not. So on Thur when we go to the Dr I will ask to have him tested. We live in a old house so I have always worried. Praying for Solomon!

    1. Thank you Tesha! And do let me know how Jojo tests!

  2. Always in my thoughts and prayers... all of you. <3

  3. What a crazy thing to have to worry about. I'm glad the big gun is coming to take a look around & hope they find the cause. Praying for Solomon.

    1. Thanks Jo! Never know what will happen next around here ...