Hanna-Attisha: 80% of Flint kids exposed to lead in water have learning disorders

    Flint water plant | Susan J. Demas

    Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha tells “60 Minutes” on CBS that early testing results show that 80% of children exposed to lead during the Flint water crisis will require services for a language, learning or intellectual disorder.

    The Flint doctor, who rang the alarm in 2015 about kids with high lead levels after the state-appointed emergency manager switched the city’s water supply to the Flint River, is set to detail the results of extensive neuropsychological assessments of 174 kids on the program Sunday. She estimates 14,000 Flint children younger than 6 were exposed. Before the crisis, 15% of Flint children required special education services, per CBS.

    Mona Hanna-Attisha

    “There is no safe level of lead. … It is an irreversible neurotoxin. It attacks the core of what it means to be you, and impacts cognition — how children think,” Hanna-Attisha told CBS. “[Lead] actually drops IQ levels. It impacts behavior, leading to things like developmental delays.”

    State Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) said he’ll continue to fight for Flint residents.

    “From the very beginning, we realized the potential for the water crisis to have a lasting impact on our community, and especially on our kids. As the youngest victims of the crisis grow older, we are understanding more about just how devastating that impact is and what resources our community will need to make sure Flint kids have the learning and health support they require.”

    Hanna-Attisha has established the Flint Registry for residents to be connected with services and programs that promote health and wellness.

    But she told CBS about the impact of lead on young children: “There’s no antidote. There’s no cure. We can’t take away this exposure.”

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    Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.