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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. However, lead poisoning still occurs. Approximately 500,000 U.S. children aged 1- 5 years have blood lead levels (BLLs) greater than 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (µg/dL), the updated level at which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends public health interventions. The new, lower value means that more children likely will be identified as having lead exposure allowing parents, doctors, public health officials, and communities to take action earlier to reduce the child's future exposure to lead.

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: Two toddler girls sitting on sofa reading a book

  • 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.
 

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