Two tubes of a cream marketed to treat eczema have been found by Oregon public health officials to have dangerously high lead levels. The tubes were discovered when two Portland-area infants were found to have elevated levels of lead in their blood.
The cream — called Diep Bao — is sold primarily by online retailers based in Vietnam and Singapore. The tubes that were tested were found to have about twice as much lead as lead paint, according to Ryan Barker, the program coordinator of the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at the Oregon Health Authority.
Public health officials are asking families who have the product at home to stop using it immediately while its safety is being investigated. Parents who have recently been using the cream now should have their children tested for lead levels. Officials also ask that anyone with a tube of the cream turn it in for testing.
There are many safe, non-prescription creams available to treat childhood eczema, a common condition that causes the skin to become dry, itchy and irritated. Officials recommended parents ask their health care provider about other options.
Children are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can cause damage to internal organs and long-term damage to the nervous system. Learning disorders and developmental defects are possible outcomes of nervous system damage.
Lead poisoning sometimes has no visible symptoms. In both of these cases, the lead levels were identified through routine blood screenings.
There is no limit on lead in medication, but the Food and Drug Administration limits the amount of lead in cosmetics to 10 parts per million. The creams tested in Oregon had 1,000 times that limit.
Stopping the sale of the product “will be a challenge” because the sales are mostly happening online, according to OHA’s Barker.
To turn in tubes of the cream or ask questions about your child’s potential exposure, contact the Multnomah County lead line at 503-988-4000 or email email@example.com. Interpretation is available and free.