BEIJING — Officials in eastern China have blamed a battery factory for causing lead poisoning in more than 50 children and have ordered the plant to relocate, state media reported late Tuesday.

Similar reports of lead poisoning have emerged around the country since August, affecting more than 3,000 children and highlighting the heavy environmental cost of China's rapid economic development.

The Shengxiang Power Source Co. is just 50 yards (meters) from Hekou village in Jiangsu province, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The factory is the source of the lead pollution, Sun Jie, an information officer for Dafeng city, which oversees the village, told Xinhua.

A total of 51 children were found to have lead poisoning, and Sun said health checks have started for all children living near the factory.

Excessive amounts of lead in the body can harm the nervous and reproductive systems and cause high blood pressure and anemia. In severe cases, it can lead to convulsions, coma and death.

Last month, officials said they had closed a battery factory in the southern province of Guangdong after 40 children were found with lead poisoning. In November, authorities said they would relocate 1,400 families in the northern Shaanxi province who live near a smelter that caused lead poisoning in about 850 children, after protests erupted in August.

Similar reports of lead poisoning have emerged in Yunnan, Fujian and other provinces in recent months.

In the latest case, the battery factory opened in 2007 but was asked by the local environmental monitoring department on Nov. 22 to suspend operations because of high lead levels in its emissions, Xinhua reported.

Sun told Xinhua the municipal government cut the company's power supply two days later and told it to move elsewhere. (AP)