There are efforts underway to help Flint children exposed to lead in their drinking water.
There’s also an effort to see if those interventions are working.
Children exposed to high levels of lead benefit from better nutrition and early education. A new collaboration between Michigan State University and Hurley Children’s Hospital will try to find the best ways to do that.
Aron Sousa is the interim director of the MSU College of Human Medicine. He says intervention is good, but “the key thing is figuring out if your intervention is working.”
To determine that, experts in pediatrics, child development, psychology, toxicology and other fields will study how the response is working in Flint.
“Academia is an important part of figuring out whether or not public health work, whether or not governmental work, is really happening the way it should,” says Sousa.
Sousa hopes the lessons learned can not only help children in Flint, but around the world.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha is the director of the pediatric residency program at Hurley Children’s Hospital and an assistant professor at MSU’s College of Human Medicine. Her research showed elevated lead levels in the blood of Flint children last summer.
“We can sit back and in 10, 15 years and do nothing. And we can see the consequences of this population wide lead exposure,” says Hanna-Attisha. “Or we can do something. And this is our opportunity.”
She says this is an opportunity to “build a model public health program” that can continue to do research, monitor lead-exposed children, and intervene.
Hanna-Attisha says the ultimate goal is to see no long-term consequences from Flint drinking water crisis.