State Frustrated With Drop In Number Of Kids Getting Blood Lead Tests

Apr 6, 2018

The percentage of one-and two-year-olds who had their blood tested for lead is down since 2014. And that’s caught the attention of doctors and public health officials.

Dr. Wendy Davis of Chittenden County has been working with the state to figure out why more doctors aren’t testing every one-and two-year old.

“Many people when they’re talking about this issue refer to the children as the canaries in the coal mine because we do the screening and detect elevated blood levels often after they’ve been exposed," Davis explained. "So it’s really important to get the levels up. You know we made some progress early on and then we’re a bit stuck at the moment."

Lead poisoning is especially dangerous for younger children, and even low levels can lead to neurological and behavioral problems.

Doctors say difficulty in obtaining blood from young children and inadequate cost reimbursement and insurance coverage prevent more testing from taking place.

Since 2017, the health department has been reaching out directly to doctors around the state to address the barriers they have to universal screening.

According to the annual report, the percentage of children with elevated levels of lead in their blood is decreasing, which Davis says highlights the success of the state’s education and outreach services around lead poisoning exposure.