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Childhood Lead Testing Recommendations

The City of Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP) recommends that all children be tested at least three times before the age of 3. Children ages 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 under the age of 6 years old should be tested if they have no record of a previous test, have a history of lead exposure, or if they are at greater risk for lead exposure. Increased risk may mean living in housing built before 1978 with recent or ongoing renovation or having a sibling or playmate who has an elevated blood lead level.  Current federal rules require that all children enrolled in Medicaid receive a blood lead test.

Pregnant women, or women who may become pregnant, should be aware of lead hazards in their environments in order to protect their unborn baby. If you are pregnant or may become pregnant, talk to your doctor about your risk of lead exposure.


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?

Your child’s primary health care provider is the best place to get tested. Lead tests are paid for by most insurance plans. Testing for Medicaid-eligible children is required and paid for by Medicaid.

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 test results?

Check with your doctor or clinic for the results of your child’s blood lead test. 


What action is taken if my child has lead in their blood?

Every blood lead test for a child is required to be reported to the child’s local health department. For children who live in the city of Milwaukee, the MHD initiates outreach to a parent or caregiver when a child's blood lead levels are reported to be above 3.5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL). For more information, visit the MHD CLPPP case management services.

After an initial capillary (finger stick) test, it may be recommended that your child receive additional testing to confirm the results. If an initial capillary test shows an elevated blood lead level, a venous test (from the arm) should be scheduled as soon as possible in order to confirm the lead level. Depending on a child's reported blood lead level, ongoing testing may be recommended.

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


1 - 4 µg/dL Have lead test done in a year


3.5 - 19 µg/dL


Schedule a venous test to confirm lead level as soon as possible
Schedule another venous test in 3 - 4 months if elevated


20 - 44 µg/dL


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


Child may be hospitalized for chelation therapy to remove lead from body
Retest child frequently after chelation


Additional Information on Lead Testing and Treatment

Additional information can be found:


Contact Us

 Zeidler Municipal Building, Room 118, Milwaukee, WI 53202 




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