The Marshall County Health Department is highlighting the need for all Hoosier children younger than the age of 7 to be screened for lead exposure.

Beginning January 1, 2023, House Enrolled Act 1313 requires that all Indiana healthcare providers determine whether children age 6 and younger have been tested for lead poisoning and to offer screenings. Through August 2023, there has been a 21% increase in unique children tested compared to the same period in 2022 and a 393% overall increase in confirmed cases of elevated blood lead levels.  This has led to 81.9% more children receiving resources and support from lead case managers than in all of 2022.

“Lead poisoning can look like a lot of other things like attention deficit disorder, ADHD, or even autism because it isn’t present in a specific way,” said Paul Krievens Director of the Indiana Department of Health Lead and Healthy Homes Division.  “Testing is critical to identifying and removing sources of lead and ensuring children exposed to lead receive needed care and treatment.” 

Data shows that no amount of lead in the blood is safe, and children aged 6 and younger are most vulnerable to the effect of lead exposure because their bodies use the toxic lead in brain and bone development. Lead dust often originates from deteriorated lead-based paint in older homes, but lead can occur naturally in soil and can be found in drinking water fed through lead pipes.  Signs of lead exposure can include damage to the brain and nervous system, learning and behavior problems, developmental delays, and hearing and speech problems.

Contact the Marshall County Health Department to schedule your child’s lead screening appointment at 574-935-8565.