Secretary for Food and Health Dr. Ko Wing-man has sought to allay fears that children found to have excessive lead levels in their blood would experience stunted intellectual growth.
Ko said signs of delay in children’s intellectual development need to be confirmed until they reach kindergarten or primary school, Metro Daily reported.
He also said it cannot be confirmed as yet whether such delays were due to excessive lead in their blood, and whether such excessive levels resulted from drinking lead-contaminated water, the newspaper said.
The health chief made the comments after three children, aged 11 months old and three years old, were found to have excessive lead levels in their blood and showed signs of development delays.
The children were among the residents of Kai Ching Estate who underwent blood tests after lead-contaminated water supply was discovered in the public housing development.
Ko acknowledged it is possible that the excessive lead in their blood resulted from drinking tainted water.
But seeking to reassure the parents of the affected children, he said: “If their development is not too deviated, they might be able to catch up with the regular development in the future.”
Scientifically, no threshold has been drawn on how excessive lead in the blood could affect intellectual development, he stressed.
Blood tests showed that the 11-month-old boy had 14.18 micrograms of lead per 100 milliliters of blood while the two three-year-old boys had lead readings of 5.45 and 5.58 micrograms, Sing Tao Daily reported.
Authorities are following up on the three cases.
Ko suggested the parents should stimulate the children’s senses and speak to them more often to help in their development.
As to their communication and writing skills, their development cannot be confirmed until they go to kindergarten or primary school, he said.
A Kai Ching Estate representative, Leung Yuen-ting, said the affected children look smart and their parents haven’t noticed any signs of developmental delays.
She hoped that the government would follow up the cases until the children graduated from primary school.
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