DOH Urges Physicians to Increase Blood Lead Level Testing in Children

The Washington State Department of Health is urging family physicians and pediatricians to increase their testing on blood lead levels (BLL) in children. While DOH notes testing has increased over the past decade, Washington is still well behind the nation in testing rates (4.2 percent vs. a 17.6 percent national average). The emphasis comes in response to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention lowering its blood lead reference level from 5.0 micrograms per deciliter to 3.5 µg/dL. The issue was also discussed in the April edition of the journal Pediatrics.

High-risk populations — refugee children, children enrolled in Medicaid, and children living in a house built before 1978 — should be prioritized in screening and testing efforts.

Children enrolled in Medicaid are required to have BLL screening tests at 12 months of age and 24 months of age. (Completing a risk assessment questionnaire does not fulfill this requirement.)

For more information, visit DOH’s lead webpage (there is a section for health care partners at the bottom of the page) or email them at