What is a lead test?
A lead test is a blood test that measures the amount of lead in the blood. Lead is a metal that may be found in:
- Old water pipes
- Paint and dirt in and around homes and other buildings built before 1978
- Some glazed pottery and ceramic plates and bowls
- Certain herbal remedies such as azarcon, alarcon, rueda, litargirio, ba-baw-san, ghasard, and daw tway
Why is it done?
The test is done to check for lead poisoning. Children less than 6 years of age are more at risk for lead poisoning than adults. A lead test is usually done routinely between 1 and 2 years of age. It can be done at a regular checkup.
Lead can build up in your childâ€™s blood and cause serious health problems. In small amounts, lead can cause headaches, constipation, and sleep problems. High levels of lead can cause problems with your childâ€™s brain and growth.
If your child is at high risk or needs treatment for lead poisoning, your child will have follow-up tests to see how well the treatment is working.
How do I prepare my child for this test?
Usually no preparation is needed for this test. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions.
How is the test done?
Having this test will take just a few minutes.
- If you have a baby, a tiny prick is made in the heel of the foot to get a small amount of blood.
- If you have a young child, a small amount of blood is taken with a prick of the finger or from a vein in the arm with a needle.
The blood is collected in tubes and sent to a lab.
Ask your healthcare provider when and how you will get the result of your childâ€™s test.
What does the test result mean?
If your child has a high level of lead, your child is at risk for having health problems and may need treatment. The treatment depends on:
- How much lead is in your childâ€™s blood
- Your childâ€™s age
- Your childâ€™s symptoms
What if the test result is not normal?
Test results are only one part of a larger picture that takes into account your childâ€™s medical history and current health. Sometimes a test needs to be repeated to check the first result. Talk to your healthcare provider about the test results and ask questions, such as:
- If your child needs more tests
- What kind of treatment your child might need
- How to protect your child and your family from future problems with lead
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This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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