Pregnancy and Beyond

Lead poisoning is the most common preventable pediatric environmental health problem today. Children ages six months to six years of age are at the highest risk for lead poisoning due to their immature developing body systems and their "hand to mouth" habits. Lead poisoning can have long-term effects on your baby's hearing, growth, learning and behavior. Often there are no noticeable symptoms of lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can be difficult to accurately diagnose without a test.

The main source of lead poisoning is "lead dust" from lead-based paint that is peeling, chipping or flaking. This is particularly true if you are living in or remodeling an older home. The lead part of the paint has a sweet taste so children seem to like the taste of paint chips. Lead dust is taken into the body in two ways - by breathing the dust in or by hand-to-mouth activity. Some jobs and hobbies can increase exposure to lead dust. Good housekeeping practices, including wet mopping/washing of floors and window sills, and washing objects that children put in their mouths can help lower your child's exposure to lead dust. Good nutrition can help reduce the amount of lead your baby absorbs. Babies who get proper nutrition, including the right amounts of iron, calcium and Vitamin C in their diet, absorb less lead from their environments.

Leadosaurus Says. Be Alert! Lead Can Hurt!

For more information on lead poisoning, check with your health care provider or local public health agency. Or you may visit the department's lead screening website.

Testing for Lead Poisoning

It is recommended that all children have their blood tested for lead at least twice in the first 24 months of life, usually at 12 and 24 months of age. All children with MC+ must be tested for lead in their blood at 12 and 24 months. If you live in a high-risk area of Missouri, your child should be tested yearly until 6 years old.

  • 6 months - Beginning at the 6-month well child visit, your baby's health care provider should ask you questions about the risk of lead poisoning. If your baby is at risk, a small blood sample may be taken then.
  • 12 months - At the 12-month well child visit, your baby's health care provider should take a small blood sample to test for lead.
  • 24 months - At the 24-month well child visit, your baby's health care provider should take another small blood sample to test for lead.