In 2007, Iowa passed a law requiring that all children be tested for lead poisoning before beginning kindergarten. This is a significant step in helping to end childhood lead poisoning in Iowa, but many children should be tested for lead poisoning at an even earlier age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends testing children at one and two years of age. This is because young children are at particular risk for lead poisoning because they are more likely to put items contaminated with lead in their mouths and because they absorb lead at a more rapid rate. Children living in homes built before 1970 are at a higher risk of being lead poisoned because their homes are more likely to contain lead based paint and should certainly be testing at a young age.
Testing children for lead poisoning is particularly important because there are very few detectable symptoms of lead poisoning and therefore lead poisoning can only be detected through a blood test. Even though most children do not become visibly ill from lead poisoning, they can suffer permanent injuries including learning disabilities, loss of intelligence and behavioral problems. It is important to detect lead poisoning early because higher blood lead levels and longer periods of exposure can lead to further damage. Also, when children are found to be lead poisoned the home they are living in is often inspected to determine the source of the lead hazards and the owner of the property is often required to fix the hazards. Parents should talk with their children's doctors about testing them for lead poisoning. This is especially important for parents of 1) young children (ages one and two) 2) children who live in houses or attend childcare centers built before 1970; and 3) children living in or visiting buildings where other children have become lead poisoned.