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Testing for Lead Poisoning in Children

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  • A blood lead test is the best way to find out if a child has lead poisoning.
  • A child with lead poisoning may not have visible signs or symptoms.
  • Parents can talk to their child’s healthcare provider about getting a blood lead test if their child may have been exposed.

Why get tested

Most children with any lead in their blood have no obvious immediate symptoms. If a child may have been exposed to lead, parents should talk to their child’s health care provider. They should discuss getting a blood lead test.

Healthcare providers and most local health departments can test for lead in the blood. Many private insurance policies cover the cost of testing for lead in the blood. The cost of blood lead testing for children enrolled in Medicaid is covered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services.

Who should be screened

All children who are at risk for lead exposure should be tested for lead poisoning. Some children are more likely to be exposed to lead than others. These include children who:

  • Live or spend time in a house or building built before 1978.
  • Are from low-income households.
  • Are immigrants, refugees, or recently adopted from less developed countries.
  • Live or spend time with someone who works with lead
  • Live or spend time with someone has hobbies that expose them to lead.

Parents should talk to their child’s healthcare provider about whether their child needs to be tested for lead. The child’s healthcare provider may ask questions to see if the child is at risk for lead poisoning. The best way to know if a child has been exposed to lead is to have their blood tested.

Children enrolled in Medicaid are required to get tested for lead at ages 12 and 24 months. They are also required to get tested if they are ages 24–72 months and have no record of ever being tested. For children not enrolled in Medicaid, CDC recommends focusing testing efforts on high-risk neighborhoods and children.

For more information visit the CDC’s website