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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that it was providing approximately $15 million in funding to help the Genesee County Healthy Start program provide health and social services to mothers and families who have or are at risk for lead exposure in Flint, Mich., and surrounding communities.

The fund, announced June 30 on the department’s website, is authorized under both the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act and the Public Health Service Act. It will help residents who have health issues related to the lead-contaminated water supply. Exposure to lead can have long-term effects and cause miscarriage, developmental delays in infants and other medical issues. In addition, because lead can stay in the bones for decades, women and infants can continue to be exposed to the lead through pregnancy and breastfeeding.

“The Trump administration is taking important steps to support the residents of Flint, Michigan, as the need for vital resources remains critical to the health of their community,” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said. “We understand the urgency of the situation, and this funding will help connect affected and at-risk Flint residents to comprehensive health and social services proven to mitigate the effects of lead exposure.”

The grant will be used by the Healthy Start program to help minimize the effects of lead exposure among pregnant women, infants and young children. Healthy Start will identify those exposed to lead through the contaminated water in order to assess their needs, facilitate access to recommended services and minimize developmental delays. The program will also coordinate access to appropriate medical, behavioral and developmental screening, services and supports for affected women, children and their families.