Decreased Blood Lead Level Testing in Children During COVID-19

Family Physicians Urged to Resume Blood Lead Level Testing

June 25, 2021 - Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) showing that many children have missed recommended blood lead testing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared to May 2019, the number of Michigan children tested for elevated blood lead levels decreased by 83% as of May 2020. Nationwide, during January-May 2020, 34% fewer children had testing compared with those during January-May 2019.
 
Medicaid requires that all children be tested at 12- and 24-months of age. Children between 36 and 72 months who were not previously tested must be tested at least once.
 
No amount of lead in the body is considered safe, as exposure can lead to permanent neurologic damage, organ failrues, and death. In Michigan, a blood lead level of 4.5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL) or higher is considered elevated. At 4.5 µg/dL or greater, lead education, environmental investigations, and additional medical monitoring should be established to lower the blood lead level.
 
Below are blood lead level testing resources for family physicians: