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Treatment of Lead Poisoning

Preventing disease and promoting healthy life styles is an important role for primary health care providers.  Educating families with young children about lead hazards and the effects of lead poisoning can be part of routine pediatric well-child visits. Knowing when to test, how risk is determined, and how to treat lead poisoning are the next steps. These resources can be used as references for standards of care for lead poisoning.

Wisconsin Blood Lead Screening Recommendations (PDF, 73 KB) One-page summary of recommendations for assessing a child's risk for lead poisoning.


Additional Resources

- Parents: Look Out for Lead in English (PDF,  92 KB) and Spanish (PDF, 67 KB)

Interpreting and Managing Blood Lead Levels of Less than 10µ/dL in Children and Reducing Childhood Exposure to Lead (Exit DHS, PDF, 337 KB) The authors of this paper, published in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, provide information to help clinicians understand blood lead levels less than 10 μg/dL, identify gaps in knowledge concerning lead levels in this range, and outline strategies to reduce childhood exposures to lead. They also summarize scientific data relevant to counseling, blood lead screening, and lead-exposure risk assessment.

The specific recommendations for clinicians are:

  • Understand the laboratory error range for blood lead values and, if possible, select a laboratory that achieves routine performance within ±2 μg/dL.

  • Obtain an environmental history on all children they examine, provide families with lead-prevention counseling, and follow blood lead screening recommendations established for their areas.

  • As circumstances permit, consider referral to developmental programs for children at high risk for exposure to lead and more frequent re-testing of children with blood lead levels approaching 10 μg/dL.

  • In addition, clinicians should direct parents to agencies and sources of information that will help them establish a lead-safe environment for their children.

These same health care practices by clinicians listed above were reiterated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention for children regardless of their blood lead level. In January, 2010, the advisory committee recommended that CDC lower the reference level (Exit DHS, PDF, KB) from 10mcg/dL to 5mcg/dL. CDC accepted their recommendation (Exit DHS, PDF, KB) and lowered the reference level to 5mcg/dL in May of 2010.

Screening for Elevated Blood Lead Levels (Exit DHS) The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) delivered a policy statement in 2005 that reiterates the 1995 AAP Medicaid blood lead testing mandate (Exit DHS, PDF, 131 KB) because most children with lead poisoning are Medicaid recipients and most have not been tested.

Managing Elevated Blood Lead Levels Among Young Children (Exit DHS) Recommendations from the Center for Disease Control Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. It provides basic standards and principles of medical case management.

Developmental Surveillance and Screening of Infants and Young Children (Exit DHS; PDF, 132 KB) Provides recommendations for screening infants and young children and intervening with families to identify developmental delays and disabilities in the primary care setting to assure access to early intervention services.

Medical Management Protocol for Lead Poisoning (PDF, 22 KB) Clinical management protocol developed by Dr. Margaret Layde, Medical College of Wisconsin. Includes medical, public health and environmental interventions for elevated blood lead levels.

Treatment Guidelines for Lead Exposure in Children (Exit DHS; PDF, 1 MB) This statement reviews the pharmacology of available chelating agents used for the treatment of severe lead poisoning.

Wisconsin Local Public Health Departments Local Public Health Departments perform follow-up to children with elevated blood lead levels.  The link provides contact information for local public health department personnel.

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Last Revised:  October 03, 2014