Blood Lead Screening

Lead is a metal found in many places. However, the most common sources of lead exposure are lead-based paint chips and the dust created when painted surfaces age or are disturbed.

Although it was banned for residential use in 1978, lead is still found inside and outside homes built before 1978. Exposure to lead can cause various problems for everyone, both young and old, but particularly for those under the age of two. 

This week, we sat down with Dr. Kathryn Ledford to learn more about blood lead screening in kids. 

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What is the importance of blood lead screening?

Lead is a toxin that is dangerous to young children under two years old because of their small size and how quickly they grow and develop. Kids exposed to lead could end up with long-term lead poisoning, and long-term lead poisoning can lead to behavioral and learning difficulties, anemia, seizures and other medical issues. Lead testing is also the only way to know if someone has lead poisoning!

Who should be getting blood lead screening?

All children from 9 months to 24 months should be screened for lead poisoning. 

How does blood lead screening work?

Lead screening is done by conducting a blood test performed in the laboratory. The preferred method of collection at GHC-SCW is a blood draw. 

How does someone get exposed to lead?

Lead is a metal found in older homes that have been painted with lead-based paint. Sometimes lead is in specific work environments and water supplies. Kids under two years old are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning exposure if they are often in environments with high lead levels. 

What are the symptoms of lead poisoning?

A child could show no symptoms of lead poisoning. Some kids may experience constipation, nausea/vomiting, learning disabilities, fatigue, loss of appetite, hyperactivity, and irritability. If your child experiences any of these symptoms and you think they may have been exposed, reach out to their doctor!

What can you do to prevent lead poisoning?

-Avoid contact with old paint in your home. 

-Do not renovate or remodel until your home has been inspected for lead.

-Use wet paper towels to pick up dust or wet mop dust in the house rather than using a broom.

-Keep toys off the floor, particularly anything placed in the mouth.

-Wash hands before eating – every time!

-Provide foods rich in calcium, iron and vitamin C, which prevent lead absorption.

-Keep shoes at the door to avoid tracking dust from the garage, porches, and yards.

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Head to https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/parents.htm for more information on the importance of Blood Lead Screening.