College of Nursing

What are the symptoms of lead poisoning?

Most children with lead poisoning do not show any outward symptoms unless blood-lead levels become extremely high; consequently, many cases of children with lead poisoning go undiagnosed and untreated. However, some symptoms of lead poisoning include: 

  • Difficulty paying attention or a prior diagnosis of ADHD
  • Hearing impairment
  • Poor test performance and/or memory skills
  • Compulsion
  • Hyperirritability
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Stomachaches
  • Nausea 
  • Tiredness

                                                                                                 (ODH, 2010)  

Blood Testing

Because the symptoms of lead poisoning are similar to those of flus or viruses, the only way to detect lead poisoning is by performing a blood test. The bodies of children 6 months to 2 years of age absorb more lead; thus, testing is increasingly important for their health. Nevertheless, all children under the age of six should have their blood-lead levels tested at their regular pediatrician's office or at a public health clinic, even if nothing is apparently wrong with their health



For more information about lead poisoning, visit EPA's Web site at or call The National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).


Last Updated: 6/30/19