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DHHS Data Brief: NH Children’s Lead Testing Rates Lowest Since 2017
Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) has identified some concerning trends regarding lead-level testing in young children as presented in the 2021 Lead Exposure in New Hampshire Data Brief. This annual brief shows that between 2019 to 2021, there was a 25% decrease in the rate of children who were lead-tested at the required ages of one and two, likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Childhood lead exposure is a significant issue in New Hampshire because of the large number of older homes that contain lead-based paint, the main source of exposure in children," Dr. Jonathan Ballard, Chief Medical Officer for DHHS said. "Now is the time for parents to play catch-up if their children missed important doctor’s visits. Parents with children under six years of age who have not had two lead level tests in their lifetime should schedule an appointment to be tested.”
Since April 9, 2018, New Hampshire’s Universal Testing Law requires children to be tested for lead levels at age one and, again, a second test, at age two. These important screening tests are usually a routine part of a child’s annual well child check visits to the doctor.
Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to negatively affect a child’s ability to think, learn and behave. While the effects of lead poisoning may be permanent, if caught early, there are things parents can do to prevent further exposure and reduce damage to their health and development. Parents should check with their child’s pediatrician office if they are unsure if their child has had the required tests, and get them tested as soon as possible if not.
The Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is part of the in the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health Services. To learn more, go to the Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program webpage.