Section II: Trends in Childhood Lead Poisoning

Incidence is the measure of the number of children identified for the first time within a specified time period with confirmed BLLs ≥ 10 mcg/dL, the current definition of lead poisoning. Although there is no established threshold for the harmful effects of lead, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has defined a BLL of ≥ 10 mcg/dL as the action level for public health intervention.

Incidence is described both in terms of the total number of new cases of childhood lead poisoning as well as the rate, or proportion, of children tested for lead who are newly identified with lead poisoning. New York State monitors incidence data to assess the extent of the existing childhood lead poisoning problem statewide, to identify high-risk communities and populations with the highest need for interventions and to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of interventions at lowering the number of children with lead poisoning.

Although incidence measures are most commonly used to describe the problem of childhood lead poisoning, prevalence measures are also useful. Prevalence includes both children who are newly identified with elevated blood lead levels (EBLLs) as well as those who were previously identified with EBLLs and continue to have EBLLs on follow up testing during the time period assessed. Because prevalence data include both incident and follow-up cases, values are higher than those for incidence data for the same year.

Children with EBLLs receive follow-up services to minimize the adverse effects of lead and to reduce further exposure to lead in their environments. Health care providers, families and local health departments (LHDs) work together to assure that children with EBLLs receive these services. The specific services required vary by blood lead level category.

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