Childhood Lead Poisoning
Childhood lead poisoning is preventable. Before some uses of lead were restricted, approximately 88% of preschool children in the United States had lead levels high enough to cause serious health effects. With less lead in the environment, lead poisonings have decreased and become less severe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends public health interventions at a blood lead level greater than or equal to 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (µg/dL). According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES), the incidence of elevated blood lead (> 10 µg/dl) in children ages 1-5 declined from 1.6% in 1999-2002 to 0.6% in 2004-2006. However, lead poisoning still occurs at a higher incidence in some areas of the United States-primarily areas where there are large amounts of housing that contain lead-based paint. Iowa is one of these areas.
The key to preventing lead poisoning in children is to stop them from coming into contact with lead; those children who have been poisoned by lead must also be tracked and treated. By tracking children with lead poisoning and sources of lead, we can:
- identify children at risk in order to target testing and resources;
- make case management services available to each child with lead poisoning;
- monitor progress towards eliminating childhood lead poisoning;
- identify and monitor trends in lead sources that are exposing children to lead;
- remove and reduce sources of lead; and
- develop and evaluate lead poisoning interventions and programs.