Lead Poisoning

Did you know...

According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development:

  • 24 million homes in the US have peeling or chipping lead-based paint or high levels of lead in dust
  • 1 out of every 40 children in the US has too much lead in their bodies
  • Dust from lead-based paint is the biggest threat to young children

Childhood Lead Poisoning

Lead is a metal that has been used for thousands of years to make many different products. Children can be exposed to lead in air, food and drinking water, and by coming into contact with different products. When a child has too much lead in their system, they don't look sick, but they can have many problems. Some examples of problems include trouble paying attention or concentrating, having stomachaches or headaches, feeling tired frequently, trouble with coordination, or showing aggressive behavior. Children with very high lead levels may have severe brain damage or could even die.

Where Lead is Found

Paint made before 1978 is the most common source of childhood lead poisoning. Many other products may contain lead, such as:

  • Soil or dirt where you live, or near a factory or auto shop
  • The pipes in some older homes
  • Candy and candy wrappers made outside of the U.S.
  • Some handmade pottery
  • Cast iron and metal pots made outside of the U.S.
  • Small toys made outside of the U.S.
  • Azarcon, greta and other powders used in home remedies (Note: It is important to check with your doctor before giving your child any medicine or home remedies.)

Testing for Lead Poisoning

CCHP follows the State of Wisconsin’s Blood Lead Screening Recommendations. These recommendations are based on the most common risk factors for lead exposure, which can be identified by answering the “4 Easy Questions” listed here:

  • Does the child now live in or visit a house or building built before 1950 or have they ever in the past? (includes places such as day care, home of friends, grandparents or other relatives)
  • Does the child now live in or visit a house or building built before 1978 with recent or ongoing renovations or have they ever in the past? (includes places such as day care, home of friends, grandparents or other relatives)
  • Does the child have a brother, sister or playmate who has/had lead poisoning?
  • Is the child enrolled in Medicaid or WIC?

Call your child’s doctor to discuss when your child should have their next blood lead level checked. Children should have a simple blood test at 1 and 2 years old. This can be as simple as a quick finger-prick in your doctor's office. Most children in the US between 1 through 5 years of age have blood lead levels below 3.5μg/dL (micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood). If the level of lead in your child's blood is too high (above 3.5μg/dL), your local health department office will contact you or visit your home to help you find the source of the lead and help you fix the problem.

Did you know? CCHP uses the Wisconsin Blood Lead Registry to check your child’s blood lead testing history. This online tool allows us to get weekly updates on the blood lead tests performed for our members at all locations across Wisconsin, including:

  • Doctor’s offices and clinics
  • Local health department offices
  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) sites
  • Head Start program locations

Protecting Your Child from Lead Poisoning

There are several things you can do to help prevent lead poisoning in children. Wash your child's hands and face often, especially if they are teething, as small children tend to put everything in their mouths. 

Use cold water instead of hot, to make infant formula and for cooking. Let the cold water run for at least one minute before using it for cooking or for drinking. This will help flush out any lead that may come from the pipes.

Eating low-fat foods and foods high in iron and calcium can protect a child from lead poisoning. Some examples of iron and calcium-rich foods include milk, yogurt, cheese, iron-fortified cereals, eggs, beans, raisins, green leafy vegetables, spinach, collard greens, fruits, whole grains and lean meats.

Contact your child’s doctor if you have questions. If need to find a doctor for your child(ren), and they are:

  • Enrolled in BadgerCare Plus, contact Customer Service at 1-800-482-8010
  • Enrolled in Care4Kids, contact Customer Service at 1-855-371-8104
  • Enrolled in Individual and Family Plans, contact Customer Service at 1-844-201-4672