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Conduct Lead Screenings on All Medicaid Children.

All children in the Medicaid program should be screened for blood lead levels at ages 1 and 2 years, or between the ages of 3 and 6 if they have not previously been screened, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention reminded physicians.

Children with early exposure to lead experience a peak in blood lead levels from 18 to 24 months of age, the report explained. For instance, children at age 1 with levels less than 10 [micro]g/dL may have elevated levels at age 2, making two screening times necessary (MMWR 49[RR-14]:1-13, 2000).

From 1991 to 1994, 81% of young children enrolled in Medicaid did not receive a blood lead test despite longstanding requirements for screening in this high-risk group, the report said. In children aged 1-5, 9% of those enrolled in Medicaid have elevated blood lead levels, versus 3% of those children not on Medicaid.

Children who are black, poor, or living in housing built before 1946 are at higher risk for the lead toxicity, which is most commonly acquired through chronic ingestion of lead-contaminated dust. Blood lead levels of 10 [micro]/dL or more can adversely affect cognitive development, growth, and behavior.

The report encouraged the use of portable testing devices that allow for immediate results and retesting. Once elevated levels of lead are identified, health care providers should identify those cases requiring more frequent blood lead testing, chelation treatment, environmental investigation, public health case management, and lead hazard control.

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Comment:Conduct Lead Screenings on All Medicaid Children.
Author:Wang, Jennifer M.
Publication:Family Practice News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2001
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