Pediatric Lead Screening in Haymarket, VA
PediatriCare of Northern VA offers a variety of medical testing that can be used to either identify the cause of a child’s particular symptoms, or as a means of preventative testing. One common preventative analysis used by our pediatricians is a lead screening test for the detection of lead poisoning.
What Is Lead Poisoning?
For many years, lead was used in all sorts of products and devices from house paint to cosmetics. It wasn’t until much later that scientists discovered that this component could actually inflict serious damage to a person’s health.
When lead accumulates in an individual’s blood, it can lead to low birth weights, developmental delays, seizures, and many other serious side effects in newborns and children. Adults can also encounter lead poisoning, though the greatest risk is posed to unborn babies and young kids.
Since discovering the harmful effects of lead, it has been taken out of use for man-made products, though many old buildings, toys, and other dated materials may still contain significant amounts of lead that continue to pose a danger to nearby humans. Even low levels of lead exposure can result in irreversible damage if they are maintained over time.
The Lead Screening Process
Testing a patient’s blood for lead is a very simple procedure that only requires a small sample to be taken by pricking the person’s finger. Many of us remember completing this standard screening ourselves as children, and it can be very beneficial to speak with your child about your experience so that they know what to expect from the lead screening. Although many people dislike giving blood samples since it is seen as a painful or scary process, lead screenings are completely safe as well as very quick.
Lead screenings are recommended to begin at the 6 month well-child visit, as noted by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children are typically tested again for signs of lead poisoning at these following well-child visits with your doctor:
- 6 months
- 9 months
- 12 months
- 18 months
- 2 years
- 3 years
- 4 years
- 5 years
- 6 years
Knowing Your Risk Factors for Lead Poisoning
Even for children who are unlikely to have encountered lead are often screened for lead poisoning during routine check-ups with their pediatrician. The frequency of this testing can vary from one patient to another, as some families may face higher risk for lead poisoning due to:
- Living in an older home
- Participating in hobbies like making stained glass or custom jewelry that requires lead soldering
- Prior residency or long-term visitation in developing countries with less strict rules regarding lead usage
Treatment for Lead Poisoning
Small amounts of lead poisoning can be treated easily, making early detection and diagnosis incredibly important. Individuals who sustain more severe exposure to lead are likely to be hospitalized until they are able to recover fully.
If you begin to notice abnormal symptoms in any of your family members that appear to be related to lead poisoning, be sure to contact PediatriCare of Northern VA right away by calling (703) 330-3939. It is also critical that parents adhere to the recommended lead screening dates as stated by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Your physician may also be likely to order additional testing if needed.