Lead poisoning

A 7-year-old male was referred to the school psychologist for disruptive behavior in the classroom. The parents told the psychologist that the boy has been difficult to manage at home as well. His scholastic work has gotten worse over the last 6 months and he is not meeting educational benchmarks. His parents are also worried that he isn’t growing like the other kids in the neighborhood.

He has been bullied by other children which is contributing to his behaviors. The psychologist suggests that the parents have some blood work done to check for any abnormalities. The complete blood count (CBC) revealed hypochromic microcytic anemia. Further testing revealed the child had a venous lead level of 21 mcg/dl (normal is < 10 mcg/dl).

The child was diagnosed with lead poisoning and it was discovered he lived in public housing that had not finished stripping lead paint from the walls and woodwork. How does lead poisoning account for the child’s symptoms?

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