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May 7, 1955


JAMA. 1955;158(1):47-48. doi:10.1001/jama.1955.02960010049015

Lead poisoning in infancy is a serious insidious disease with clinical characteristics that render its diagnosis difficult and sometimes uncertain, even in skilled and experienced hands without the aid of specific and appropriate analytical procedures. Mellins and Jenkins (this issue, page 7) call attention to the fact that when several cases occur within a short time among children an epidemic of viral encephalitis may be suspected. The correct diagnosis depends largely on considering lead poisoning as a possibility and looking for positive signs. Confirmation or exclusion of the occurrence of a dangerous degree of lead absorption may be accomplished by the determination of the concentration of lead in the whole blood. The confirmation, but not the exclusion, can be achieved at times, but not always, by the analysis of appropriate samples of urine, but the analysis of the blood is much the preferable diagnostic procedure in the case of children.

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