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Testing Recommendations and Frequently Asked Questions

Blood Lead Testing Frequently Asked Questions

Who needs to be tested?
The City of Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) recommends all children be tested three times before the age of three. Children aged 6 months to 3 years are at greatest risk for lead exposure because of their rapid growth and development along with their increasing mobility and hand-to-mouth activity. 

Children ages 3-5 years old should be tested if they are at greater risk for lead exposure of have a history of lead exposure. Current federal rules require all children enrolled in Medicaid receive a blood lead test.

When should testing be done?

MHD recommends children be tested 3 times before age 3 years (at around 12 months, around 18 months, and around 24 months).

Children up to the age of 6 years should have a blood lead test if there is no record of a previous test, if they live in housing built before 1978 with recent or ongoing renovation, or if they have a sibling or playmate who has lead poisoning. Additionally, children who are uninsured, or receiving Medicaid, Healthcheck, or Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) need to be tested.

How is a lead test done?
Lead testing requires taking a small sample of blood. Lead tests may be done by doing a finger stick (capillary test) or drawing blood from the arm (venous test).

Where can I get my child tested?
Blood lead testing is best done by the child's Primary Care Provider (doctor or clinic) as part of the child's routine health care. Parents and caregivers need to assure this is done during visits to their child's Primary Care Provider.

MHD, WIC programs, and some Head Start programs may also offer lead tests to their clients.

What can I do to find out my child's lead results?

  1. Check with your doctor or clinic who will have laboratory results of your child's blood draw.
  2. Every blood lead test result for a child who lives in the City of Milwaukee is required to be reported to MHD. After the result is received, MHD will send a letter to the reported parent(s)/guardian(s) of the child if the child's lead level is elevated and will provide other services as needed.
  3. Call the MHD Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 414-286-5987 and request information about your child's blood lead history.
BLOOD LEAD TESTING RECOMMENDATIONS

AGE

RECOMMENDATION

 

Test around 12 months

Under 3 Years

 

Test around 18 months

 

Test around 24 months

 

CHILDREN RECEIVING MEDICAID, WIC, OR UNINSURED:

 

Test around 36 months

 

Test around 48 months

 

 

 

Test around 60 months

 

3 - 5 Years

ANY CHILD:

 

Test if no record of prior test

 

Test if child lives in house built prior to 1978 with recent or ongoing renovations

 

 

Test if child has sibling or playmate with lead poisoning


Recommended Actions Based on Blood Lead Test Results

There are specific recommendations for confirming a blood lead level after an initial capillary test. If an initial capillary test shows the child is lead poisoned, a venous test should be scheduled as soon as possible in order to confirm the lead level.

There are specific recommendations for ongoing testing for children depending on their reported lead level.

If a blood lead level is reported at 45 µg/dL or more, a venous test should be preformed immediately to determine if emergency medical care is necessary.

RECOMMENDED ACTIONS BASED ON BLOOD LEAD LEVEL
LEVEL
NEXT ACTIONS
1 - 4 µg/dL Have lead test done in a year

 

5 - 14 µg/dL

CONTACT YOUR CHILD'S DOCTOR

Schedule a venous test to confirm lead level as soon as possible

Schedule another venous test in 3 - 4 months if elevated

 

25 - 44 µg/dL

CONTACT YOUR CHILD'S DOCTOR

Schedule a venous test to confirm lead level as soon as possible

Schedule another venous test in 1 - 3 months if elevated

 

45 µg/dL and higher

CONTACT YOUR CHILD'S DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY

Child may be hospitalized for chelation therapy to remove lead from body

Retest child frequently after chelation

 

For information on the response of MHD to different lead levels, please see the Lead Program Case Management page.


Additional Information on Lead Testing

For further information contact the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 414-286-5987.

Additional information can be found: