LEAD Action News Vol
1 no 2 Winter 1993 ISSN 1324-6011
Getting Your Child's Blood Lead
by Ann Gethin
Parents attempting to get a blood lead level assessment of their child want two things: an accurate reading, and a blood tiling that is as painless as possible. The best way of achieving this is to get your own doctor to refer you to a reputable pathology service which is involved in the Australian Standards quality control program for assessing blood lead levels and can give you an appointment with a venipuncturist (person who takes the blood) specialising in children. Your results will be sent to your own doctor in one to two weeks.
Traps for new players:
1) The doctor - far too many GPs are ignorant of the risk factors which would indicate the need to test for lead or may try to take the blood themselves or refer you to an inexperienced pathologist (My sons first blood lead level was tested using the heel prick method which is both inaccurate and extremely distressing for parent and baby - we both left in tears). If your doctor does appear to know little about lead, explain that lead in blood even at fairly low levels (less than 10 µg/dL) has been linked with IQ loss, and the reasons why you think your child may be affected (e.g. living near a busy street, living in a smelter town, old paint in house, lots of hand sucking, living in urban area, etc.). You could also suggest (particularly if they are an inner-city or smelter town doctor with no real excuse for not being aware of lead) that they contact one of the public health units for some more information or The LEAD Group at the
Community Lead Information Centre (CLIC). Volunteers at CLIC can send doctors advice for GP's written by Dr Garth Alperstein, community paediatrician. Parents can familiarise themselves with the risk factors by reading the handout "Is your child being exposed to Lead?" also available from CLIC.
3) The myths - don't fall prey to the argument that there is or was no point having the blood lead level tested because there's nothing you can do about it. Reducing lead in petrol in the US and controlling lead in food cans, took the mean blood lead level from 15 µg/dL to less than 4 µg/dL and various studies of individual management have found ways to reduce children's blood levels by various amounts. The onus is now on environmental and health authorities to bring that research tothe attention of doctors and carry out further research where necessary. Doctors need to be aware of the following NHMRC recommendations (see next item).
system lead poisoning |
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