Lead Information for Parents

Protecting children from lead poisoning is important for overall health and can be prevented.  Lead poisoning in children can cause developmental delays, difficulty learning, behavioral issues and neurological damage.  Lead paint in homes built before 1978 is the most common source of lead exposure for children in Connecticut.  Young children are more likely to be exposed to lead paint and lead dust due to their hand-to-mouth behavior.  Children exposed to lead often do not have any symptoms.  The only way to determine if your child has been exposed to lead is through a blood test.  The amount of lead in blood is referred to as a blood lead level, which is measured in micrograms per deciliter of blood (µg/dL).  Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about getting a lead test.

Universal blood lead screening is mandated for children

  • All children between the ages of 9 and 35 months must be tested annually
  • All children between the ages of 36 and 72 months must be tested, if not previously tested for lead in blood or if at an elevated risk based on medical assistance program enrollment or a residence in a municipality that presents an elevated risk of lead exposure based on factors, including, but not limited to, the prevalence of housing built prior to January 1, 1960, and the prevalence of children’s blood lead levels greater than 5 µg/dL
  • All children under 72 months must be tested if clinically indicated
  • Healthcare providers must provide education and guidance to parents regarding lead poisoning prevention before testing
  • Healthcare providers must notify parents when a child has a blood lead level greater than 3.5 µg/dL
  • Medical providers must conduct a medical risk assessment at least annually for children between the ages of 36 months and 72 months

A child’s blood lead screen is a sample from the finger or heel (capillary).  If a child’s screening results is greater than 3.5 µg/dL, the child will be required to have a confirmation blood test completed (venous).

Blood Lead Test Results:

  • less than 3.5 µg/dL – a blood lead level of less than 3.5 requires no further action
  • between 3.5 and 9.9 µg/dL – a blood lead level in this range means that your child must be retested within 3 months
  • between 10 and 19.9 µg/dL – a blood lead level in this range means that your child must be retested within 1 month
  • between 20 and 44.9 µg/dL – this blood lead level means that your child must be retested within 2 weeks or as soon as possible
  • 45 µg/dL or greater – may require a child to be hospitalized and receive additional services under the clinical guidance of a regional lead treatment center
    • Regional Lead Treatment Centers - there are two Regional Lead Treatment Centers in Connecticut that specialize in providing guidance and assistance with clinical management of a lead poisoned child
      • Connecticut Children’s Medical Center | (860) 837 – 9901
      • Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital | (860) 688 – 2195

Recommendations to Reduce Lead in Blood:

  • Talk to your child’s pediatrician about their blood lead test result
  • Look for chipping, peeling, or flaking paint if you live in a home built before 1978, or if your child spends time at someone else’s older home
  • Monitor your child’s activities inside and outside of the home to make sure that they are not ingesting soil, lead paint chips or lead dust
  • Wash your child’s hands often, especially before eating
  • Clean all toys and inside surfaces using wet cleaning methods weekly
  • Introduce foods rich in calcium, iron and zinc into your child’s diet
  • Call your local health department to discuss ways to keep your child safe

Additional education materials can be found here