Blood Lead Screening

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Guidance on screening children for elevated blood lead

Blood lead screening should be considered for all children at age six months to one year, and older children who have not been screened before. Several risk factors which make such screening more of a necessity are discussed below.

  • Any child under six years of age should be screened if there is a sibling or frequent playmate with elevated blood lead.
  • Children in low-income families have relatively high risks for elevated blood lead, as well as other health problems. Parents and health care providers should try to make sure that all children eligible for Medicaid are enrolled in the Texas Health Steps Program. Blood lead screening is included in that program.
  • Residence in or frequent visits to older homes are also common risk factors for elevated blood lead. In the U.S. lead was not banned from paints used for homes until 1978. The earlier a home was built before 1978 the more likely it contains leaded paint. Homes built before 1950 are almost certain to contain leaded paint. Exposure to lead in such paint is more likely if it is in deteriorated condition (peeling, chipping, etc.) Remodeling/renovation also increase the risks of lead exposure.
  • In this area some Hispanic residents may engage in practices which can result in elevated blood lead, particularly the use of some folk medicines (e.g. greta, azarcon) and cooking in clay pottery from Mexico.

The Texas Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program currently recommends that all children be screened for elevated blood lead at ages 12 months and 24 months. All blood lead levels are reportable condition in Texas.

Health care providers who need to report cases should contact the Health District Epidemiology Department at 409.938.2215 or 409.938.2208.