October 26, 2012

By Graydon Gordian

Sesame and UnitedHealthcare Partner to Prevent Lead Poisoning

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children, and yet it is one of the most common environmental health problems for American children under the age of six. That’s why UnitedHealthcare and Sesame Workshop partnered to provide parents with helpful prevention information, encourage lead testing and share tips to help families stay healthy.

“Lead poisoning is something many of us think is a thing of the past, as lead paint was put out of production in 1978,” said John Cosgriff, Chief of Staff for UnitedHealthcare Community & State.. “But it is still a major health issue as a quarter of a million kids have dangerously high levels of lead in their blood.”

The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development’s National Survey of Lead and Allergens in Housing estimated that about 40 percent of all permanently occupied U.S. housing units still contain some lead-based paint. According to Cosgriff, the low-income families that both UnitedHealthcare and Sesame Workshop serve are some of the most at-risk.

In order to combat lead poisoning, Sesame Workshop and UnitedHealthcare teamed up to produce Lead Away!, a bilingual educational initiative that helps increase families’ understanding and awareness about the health risks of lead. The program teaches parents and children effective strategies to avoid lead exposure through simple tips and activities that can be easily incorporated into everyday routines.

Program materials, including videos, activity sheets and a newsletter that features Sesame Street’s beloved Bert and Ernie, are available in English and Spanish on Sesame Street’s website.

“The program materials really do have an impact,” said Cosgriff. “As an organization, we share Sesame Street’s passion for encouraging kids to be healthy and stay healthy. We are honored to distribute materials and share healthy messages with the community and our members.”

To learn more about the work UnitedHealthcare and Sesame Workshop are doing to prevent lead exposure and poisoning, click here.

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