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Ambul Pediatr. 2001 Sep-Oct;1(5):256-8.

Should we screen for lead poisoning after 36 months of age? Experience in the inner city.

Author information

1
Lead Poisoning Prevention Programs, Kings County Hospital Center, USA.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Current lead screening guidelines recommend monitoring lead levels in children under 3 years of age. There are, however, a number of children between the ages of 3 and 6 years who have elevated blood lead levels. Whether these lead elevations are new or chronic has not been examined.

OBJECTIVE:

To determine the proportion of children with lead levels greater than or equal to 10 microg/dL after their third birthday when all prior testing had been normal.

METHODS:

Retrospective study based on 39000 venous lead tests obtained between 1993 and 1998. From this group, 2046 children were located who had blood lead levels of less than 10 microg/dL before 36 months and who had a follow-up lead level after 36 months. All lead assays were done by the City of New York laboratories, which had an intrasample variability of 13%.

RESULTS:

Sixty-six (3.2%) of the 2046 children showed an elevation in blood lead for the first time after their third birthday. The abnormal values ranged from 10 to 25 microg/dL. The majority (72%) of the screen-positive children, however, had lead levels of 10 to 12 microg/dL, and 63.3% of screen-positive children with repeat tests had lead levels that reverted to below 10 microg/dL.

CONCLUSIONS:

The data indicate that some new cases of lead level elevations did occur after 3 years of age in this 'high-risk' community; however, the current study provides evidence that universal screening for lead poisoning beyond 3 years of age is not warranted in this community as it is not likely to pick up clinically important exposure.

PMID:
11888411
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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