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Lead Screening and Your Child

Does Lead Affect Your Health?

Lead can be harmful to anyone. However, children under the age of six are at greater risk. Their bodies easily absorb lead. This can be bad for their brains and other organs and systems. Certain childhood behaviors, such as chewing on non-food items like paint chips or dirt, can lead to lead poisoning. This could lead to very serious illnesses, such as:

  • Speech, language and behavioral problems
  • Learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder (ADD)
  • Behavior problems

What is Lead?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Lead is a natural element that does not break down in the environment and is very hard to clean up
  • At least 4 million households have children living in them that are exposed to high levels of lead
  • Identification and elimination of major sources of lead exposure is key to preventing lead toxicity
  • Children with signs of clumsiness, agitation, or decreased activity and drowsiness may be showing signs of central nervous system (CNS) involvement that may rapidly proceed to vomiting, stupor, and convulsions

There is no safe level of lead

Screening is recommended if:

  • You live in or often visit a house or apartment built before 1978
  • You live in or often visit a house or apartment that is being remodeled or is having paint removed
  • They have a sibling or playmate who has or has had lead poisoning
  • They live with anyone who works where lead may be found or has a hobby that uses lead
  • They live near an active lead field, battery recycling plant or other industry likely to release lead
  • They chew on or eat non-food items like paint chips or dirt

Your primary care physician (PCP) should:

  • Perform a lead blood test on children 12 - 24 months old
  • Screen children between the ages of 2 - 6 years old
  • Ask you questions about your child's risk for lead poisoning at each visit from 12 - 24 months of age


Last Updated On: 12/4/2020