What are the new recommendations for children with a lead level over 5?

As children’s brains are rapidly growing and connections within the brain are constantly developing, they are particularly sensitive to environmental toxins. Lead is a potent toxin that can cause sometimes irreversible brain damage even when present at relatively low levels.

For this reason, the blood lead level threshold for further evaluation has decreased over time so that children at risk can be identified earlier. In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lowered the “blood lead level of concern” from 10 µg/dL to 5 µg/dL. Blood lead levels of 5 µg/dL or more warrant an evaluation of the home and other places where the child spends time to remove the lead source, and close follow up with the pediatrician in 1 to 3 months. Levels much higher than 5 µg/dL require even closer follow up and may necessitate treatment.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website has some helpful information for families on lead exposure and lead poisoning. Your child’s pediatrician can partner with you to ensure your child remains healthy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Olanrewaju Falusi Olanrewaju Falusi, MD, is a pediatrician at Children’s National and Associate Medical Director for Municipal and Regional Affairs at Child Health Advocacy Institute (CHAI). Her clinical, education and research interests focus on how social factors – including poverty, immigrant status and many others – affect the health of children, and how this growing body of research can help us to improve patient care and advocacy on an individual and community level.

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