Thousands Of Children Suffer From Lead Poisoning, Many Not Tested


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HARTFORD, CT – Feb 23, 2016 Three year old Angely Nunez watches as nurse Lauren Frazer applies a topical anesthetic to Angely’s arm before a blood draw to check for levels of lead in her bloodstream at the Connecticut Children’s Primary Care Center in Hartford. Tests revealed elevated levels of lead in Angely’s blood and she began treatment with Dr. Hilda Slivka at the center. ( Photo by Tony Bacewicz)
Even though Connecticut has some of the strictest lead-screening laws in the country – requiring every child to be tested twice, once a year, before age 3 – DPH figures show that only half were screened twice, as mandated.
Unlike in Flint, Mich., whose residents were poisoned when a corrosive water source was directed through aging lead-lined pipes, the main culprit in Connecticut is lead paint. Though banned in 1978, lead-based paint is present in countless older apartment buildings and homes, especially in urban centers, such as Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport.
Connecticut’s “Requirements and Guidance for Childhood Lead Screening” set stringent rules on testing. State law says labs have 48 hours to inform the state and local health departments when they have a report of someone whose lead count is above a certain level.
Most pediatricians are doing the screenings, said Dr. Lisa Menillo, who created and directed the regional lead treatment center at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford before it was closed in 2014.
But Menillo said that they are not doing it correctly. “They’re not doing it at the right ages, and they’re not doing it as often as they should.”
DPH numbers show that about 30 percent (more than 22,000) of children between 9 months and 2 years old did not have a blood lead test in 2013. And about half of all 3-year-olds that year who had been tested once when younger never had a second test.
Screening “is a hard sell, sometimes,” said Lisa Honigfeld, vice president at the Farmington-based Child Health and Development Institute, which is under the nonprofit Children’s Fund of Connecticut.
She posits that because Connecticut’s screening laws are stricter than the federal government’s, some pediatricians may not take the state….
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