Childhood lead poisoning is a serious but preventable health problem for many children. Blood lead levels as low as 10ug/dL can have harmful effects on a child’s learning and behavior. High levels can cause devastating health problems. Testing children for lead poisoning can identify those in need of interventions and treatment.
Children should be tested by their doctor at ages 1 and 2. Children who were not tested at this age should be tested at their next visit to the doctor. Any fingerstick lead results of 10 ug/dL or higher should be confirmed by a venous blood test. Additional testing may be necessary if elevated levels are found.
Children are at higher risk for lead poisoning if they:
- Live in or regularly visit a house that was built before 1950. This includes day care, grandparents’ home, after school care, and relatives’ or friends’ homes.
- Live in or regularly visit a house built before 1978 that has had recent or current remodeling.
- Have a sibling or playmate that has or did have lead poisoning.
Children can be exposed to lead by lead-based paint, lead contaminated dust, soil or water, lead-containing items such as ceramics, some pottery, Mexican candles, some folk remedies, fishing weights and sinkers, artist oil paint, vinyl mini blinds made before 1997, or lead crystal glassware. The most common source is lead contaminated house dust where old lead paint is flaking and peeling off the walls or being scraped or sanded off for remodeling.
Children with lead levels of 10ug/dL or above should be followed closely by their doctor. They will need periodic testing, instruction on foods that should not be eaten because they increase the absorption of lead into the body, methods of cleaning to decrease lead contaminated dust in the home, and any treatment necessary. The Health Department can assist your Doctor by helping to identify the source of lead poisoning, providing education on diet, methods of cleaning, and doing an extensive home assessment if necessary.
If you have been told your child has elevated lead levels, it is critical that you keep all medical appointments, adjust their diet, identify the source of the lead and remove it from the child’s environment and follow all recommendations. If caught early, damage from lead poisoning can be prevented or reversed.
This program offers free car seats available to families who qualify. Parents must attend a short instructional session to learn the correct placement and use of the car seat or booster seat.
To apply for a car seat or booster seat, applicants must be:
- Eligible for Medicaid/qualify by income
- Legal residents of Virginia
- Parent/legal guardian or foster parent of child
VA Safety Seat Program – 1-800-732-8333
The Health Department assists the Department of Social Services in screening Medicaid eligible individuals who are considering admission to a nursing home. Persons considering nursing home placement to be paid for by Medicaid must request this screening through the Department of Social Services in their county of residence. They should have discussed their Medicaid eligibility with Social Services. To qualify for Medicaid nursing home placement or other Medicaid services like Personal Care, Waiver services, etc., the individual must be eligible for Medicaid and meet all the Medicaid criteria for Nursing Home Placement. If the individual does not meet the criteria set forth by Medicaid for nursing home placement, then the individual is not eligible for the other Medicaid personal care in home services.
For more information, call your County Department of Social Services.