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Health care leaders want to shed light on issue of lead exposure in children

Springfield News-Sun - 8/4/2022

Aug. 4—Early detection of potential lead poisoning in children is critical to preventing serious disabilities throughout adulthood, and area health leaders are working to reduce lead exposure to children in Clark County.

Primary health care providers for children under six years old are critical partners in ensuring high-risk children are tested for elevated blood levels, according to a Clark County Combined Health District press release.

Health planners from the Clark County Combined Health District on Wednesday met with health care providers at the Rocking Horse Community Health Center as a part of an ongoing public awareness campaign to reduce lead exposure to children in Clark County.

Part of this lead prevention project focuses on providing updated information about lead testing children in high-risk areas or who may be on Medicaid to 100% of Clark County health care providers who serve as primary providers for children under six years of age.

Lead blood testing is mandatory at 12 and 24 months of age for all Medicaid recipients; children residing in high-risk zip code areas; and children with any additional risk factors.

All city of Springfield zip codes are classified by the Ohio Department of Health as high-risk. Clark County identified high-risk zip codes include: 45502, 45503, 45504, 45505, 45506, 45324, 43078, 43140, and 45387.

Expanded lead safety promotions, increased screenings for kids, and additional partnerships with healthcare providers are among the strategies outlined in the health district's Lead Safe Initiative.

According to the Ohio Department of Medicaid, all children enrolled in Medicaid are required to receive blood lead screening tests at 12 and 24 months of age, but less than 60 percent of Medicaid children have had blood tests reported to the state's registry in recent years.

This leaves 40 percent of low-income children, already disadvantaged, at risk for undiagnosed and untreated lead poisoning. If caught early; parents, healthcare providers, and communities can take action to prevent further exposure and reduce damage to a child's health, according to the health district.

In 2020 in Clark County, a total of 74 children were confirmed to have elevated levels of lead in their blood, with the elevation being more than 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. An additional 13 children were listed as having "unconfirmed" elevated blood lead levels, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

The most important action parents, caregivers, healthcare providers, and public health professionals can take is to prevent lead exposure before it occurs, the health district release said.

CCCHD lead testing is available weekdays by appointment only. To schedule a lead test with CCCHD call (937)390-5600 and ask for Randi at extension 266.


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