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Blood lead levels
Blood lead level is a test that measures the amount of lead in the blood.
A blood sample is needed. For information on how this is done, see: Venipuncture
No special preparation is needed.
If your child is to have this test performed, it may be helpful to explain how the test will feel, and even demonstrate on a doll. Explain the reason for the test. Knowing the "how and why" may reduce the anxiety your child feels.
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, you may feel moderate pain, or only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
This test is used to screen people at risk for lead poisoning, including industrial workers and children who live in urban areas. It is also used to see if treatment for lead poisoning is working.
While lead serves no function in our bodies, it is usually found in the body in some amount since it is so common in the environment. Low levels in adults are not thought to be harmful, but in infants and children, low levels of lead can lead to toxicity that may cause deficits in intellectual or cognitive development.
See: Lead poisoning
McGuigan MA. Chronic poisoning: trace metals and others. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 20.
Shannon MW. Lead. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester’s Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 73.
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