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How Do I Get My Child Tested for Lead Poisoning?

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I live in an older home, and most of the walls are covered in lead-based paint. I am concerned that my son might be in danger of lead poisoning. What are some of the symptoms of lead poisoning, and how do I get him tested?
- Laurie

Lead poisoning can produce many symptoms, including irritability, headaches, weight loss, nausea, constipation, abdominal pain, fatigue, and muscle weakness. However, many kids with lead poisoning don't show any signs of the illness.

If you're concerned that your son might be at risk for lead poisoning, talk with your doctor. It's important to get your child tested for lead poisoning, as many other illnesses can cause these same symptoms. Your doctor may recommend a blood test that will help to make (or rule out) a diagnosis of lead poisoning.

Some kids, such as those from low-income families or who live in communities where many of the homes were built before 1950, are considered to be at higher risk for lead exposure. State health department recommendations for lead screening vary depending on a child's age and risk of lead exposure. But the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that, if possible, all kids be screened when they're 1 and 2 years old.

Reviewed by: Yamini Durani, MD
Date reviewed: July 2012

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.

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