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Testing Your Child’s Lead Levels

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

I received an email via our iPhone App from a mom who was concerned about lead poisoning. Ironically, it came at a time when I was reading an article on reducing lead exposure in children.

Despite awareness of the risks to young children who have lead exposure and changes in regulatory policies regarding lead in gasoline, paint, plumbing components and food cans, it is still estimated that about 1.5% of U.S. children have blood lead levels greater than 10mcg/dL which is considered high, while almost 14% of children had lead levels of 5-9mcg/dL.

You should be aware of the mounting evidence that there may be subtle effects on IQ at lead levels within these ranges.

One of the problems is there is not a uniform policy on who (which children) and when to screen for lead exposure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that states should develop policies based on their data of lead exposure.

They also recommend universal screening for newly arrived refugee children from six months to 16 years old. Federal guidelines require that all children enrolled in Medicaid be screened. But many states do not recommend routine lead screening, and I am sure many parents are not clear on their state’s guidelines, as they do not make front-page news.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends universal screening if there are not state guidelines. This screening is recommended at 12 and 24 months of age, so basically at your child’s one and two year checkup. This timing is chosen as it reflects historical data of blood lead levels peaking at this age, when children are putting everything into their mouths.

We routinely screen our patients at their one and two year old visit and surprisingly find several per year in the 5 – 10 mcg/dL level and on a rare occasion on in the teens. The majority has levels under 5mcg/dL.

Ask your doctor if your child has been screened. It is an easy test and may be another number worth knowing.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

Send your question to Dr. Sue!

Related Posts on www.kidsdr.com

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