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CASE REPORT
Lead in a case of encephalopathy

Summary

A 2-year-old boy with a history of pica was admitted with vomiting and treated overnight for viral tonsillitis. A week later, he presented with a prolonged afebrile seizure and required intubation and ventilation. Antibiotics and acyclovir were started. Despite extensive investigations including MRI head, no cause was identified. Four days later, he deteriorated with signs of raised intracranial pressure. On day 5, blood lead concentration in the sample collected at admission was reported as grossly elevated, consistent with a diagnosis of severe lead poisoning from ingesting lead-containing paint at the family home. Chelation therapy was started but, unfortunately, he did not make a neurological recovery, and care was withdrawn. A serious case review identified a lack of awareness of lead poisoning and its relation to pica as a root cause. We report this case to share our experience and the importance of considering lead poisoning in children with pica.

  • Poisoning
  • Paediatrics
  • Neonatal And Paediatric Intensive Care

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