California woman dies after using hemorrhoid ointment containing lead

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(KTXL) — California health officials said a Sacramento woman developed “severe” lead poisoning and died in March after using a hemorrhoid ointment.

The California Department of Public Health tested a sample of the ointment, called “Cao Boi Tri Cay Thau Dau,” and found that it contained 4% lead, which is considered a “dangerous amount,” according to Sacramento County health officials.

The woman reportedly bought the ointment on Facebook, and it was mailed to her by a relative who lives in Vietnam. No other information about the woman was provided.

Anyone who purchased the ointment should stop using it, see a doctor and have their blood tested for lead, officials said. Household members, especially children, should also get tested.

Exposure to lead, especially at low levels, doesn’t always cause symptoms. However, signs of lead poisoning in adults could include headaches, abdominal pain, personality changes and difficulty sleeping, according to Cleveland Clinic.

Children might also experience these symptoms, along with cramps, hyperactivity, vomiting, fatigue and learning problems.

“Lead poisoning can affect anyone, but babies and children under the age of 6 are most at risk because their bodies are still developing,” Cleveland Clinic noted on its website. “Because their bodies are still growing, their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the harmful effects of lead.”

In adults, lead exposure can cause decreased kidney function and high blood pressure, according to the National Institute of Environmental Sciences. Adverse effects in children might include decreased academic achievement, delayed puberty and hearing and speech problems.

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