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Lead poisoning remains one of the most significant and prevalent diseases of environmental origin
globally, accounting for 0.6% of the global burden of diseases. Children under the age of 6 years
are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can severely affect mental and physical
development. This study was carried out in Kawaye village, Anka Local Government Area of
Zamfara State to find out the determinants and prevalence of childhood lead poisoning in Zamfara
State and specifically, to determine risk factors and prevalence of childhood lead poisoning and
socio-demographic characteristics of children affected by lead poisoning in Kawaye village, Anka
Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
In a descriptive cross sectional study design and using simple random sampling technique, 307
eligible children aged 6 years and below were recruited. Data were collected using interviewer-
administered semi-structured questionnaire to obtain information on socio-demographics, risk
factors for lead poisoning, history of exposure to lead, and signs and symptoms of toxicity. Blood
specimens were collected for determination of blood lead levels, anemia and malaria parasitemia. In
addition, household soils were tested for presence of lead. Data were entered into and analyzed
using Epi info™ 7 software.
The study showed a very high prevalence of lead poisoning of 92.5% in Kawaye village. The mean
age of studied children was 38.5 months ± 18.5 SD. Majority of the studied children belonged to
age groups 48-59 and ≥ 60 months with slight male predominance. Children most affected by lead
poisoning were males (p = 0.455), belonging to the age group 35 months and below (p = 0.422),
and whose parents were miners (14.7%) and farmers (37.1%). More than half of the fathers and/or
guardians of studied children had informal education (53.7%) with few having neither informal nor
formal education (4.2%). In addition, nearly one-third of the fathers and/or guardians lived below
poverty line and about the same proportion (30.3%) earned at least the minimum wage set by the
Federal Government of Nigeria monthly.
Altogether, 44 of 307 (14.3%) households were found to have soils contaminated with lead of
varying degrees. The median household soil lead level was 61 PPM, ranging from non-detectable to
24000 PPM. About 11% of the households had mild-moderate contamination, while 2.9% were
severely contaminated with lead. Moreover, about 86% of the studied children had varying degrees
of anemia with a mean PCV level of 26.9% (SD ± 5.5). On the other hand, 59% of the children had
variable levels of malaria parasitemia. Low levels of education and socioeconomic status of
father/guardian, use of kohl eye cosmetic on child, anemia and malaria parasitemia were found to
be independent risk factors for childhood lead poisoning.
In conclusion, the study established a very high prevalence of lead poisoning in Kawaye village,
with most of the affected children belonging to age group 35 months and below. It is therefore
recommended that targeted interventions should be designed to address the identified risk factors in
order to control and prevent childhood lead poisoning in Kawaye village and the State at large.
Key words: Lead poisoning, Pattern, Determinants, Zamfara State
Lead - a heavy metal with symbol Pb (from Latin plumbum)- is a soft malleable metal that
has bluish-white color when freshly cut, but soon tarnishes to dull-grayish color when
exposed to air. It has a shiny chrome-silver luster when melted into liquid. It occurs naturally
in the earth‟s crust and is used in building constructions, lead acid batteries, bullets, weights,
as part of solders, plumbing materials, fusible alloys and as a radiation shield among others.
Lead poisoning on the other hand, is a medical condition that occurs when lead builds up in
the body to at least 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL) of blood, 1 often over a period of
months or years. Even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems. Children
under the age of 6 years are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can severely affect
mental and physical development. Elevated blood lead levels can trigger serious health
conditions, ranging from muscle weakness, gastro-intestinal symptoms, anemia, kidney
inflammation, convulsions and brain damage. Lead exposure during childhood can have
adverse health effects well into adulthood. For i
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