Diagnosis

Your child's doctor may recommend your child be tested for lead levels during routine check-ups.

The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends that doctors and parents follow the recommendations of their state or local health department. Some areas, such as those with older homes, have a higher lead exposure risk, so more frequent testing might be recommended for children who live in those areas.

If your area doesn't have specific lead testing recommendations, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends your child be tested for lead levels at ages 1 and 2. Doctors might also suggest lead screening for older children who haven't been tested.

A simple blood test can detect lead poisoning. A small blood sample is taken from a finger prick or from a vein. Lead levels in the blood are measured in micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL).

There is no safe blood level of lead. However, a level of 5 mcg/dL is used to indicate a possibly unsafe level for children. Children whose blood tests at those levels should be tested periodically. A child whose levels become too high — generally 45 mcg/dL or higher — should be treated.

Dec. 06, 2016
References
  1. Lowry JA. Childhood lead poisoning: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 17, 2016.
  2. Lead: Prevention tips. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tips.htm. Accessed Sept. 21, 2016.
  3. AskMayoExpert. Chelation therapy. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2016.
  4. Lowry JA. Childhood lead poisoning: Management. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 17, 2016.
  5. AAP Council on Environmental Health. Prevention of childhood lead toxicity. Pediatrics. 2016;138:e20161493.
  6. Lead poisoning and health. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs379/en/. Accessed Sept. 17, 2016.
  7. Lead toxicity: What are the physiologic effects of lead exposure? Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/csem.asp?csem=7&po=10. Accessed Sept. 17, 2016.
  8. Goldman RH, et al. Adult occupational lead poisoning. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 23, 2016.
  9. Lead: Protect your family from exposures to lead. Environmental Protection Agency. https://www.epa.gov/lead/protect-your-family-exposures-lead. Accessed Sept. 23, 2016.