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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Autism Spectrum Disorders: Genetic Testing. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Blood Lead Screening

The American Academy of Pediatrics indicates that approximately one million children in the United States have elevated lead levels in their blood. Even low levels of lead can cause a range of chronic conditions, including anemia, hearing loss, kidney problems, as well as physical and developmental delays. Additionally, severe exposure to lead can produce seizures, coma, and even death.
Developmental delays and behavioral problems can be symptoms of lead poisoning. Any child who places non-food items in their mouth may be at a risk for lead poisoning. Because of the range of risks involved, lead screenings are routinely performed when a child shows signs of a developmental delay or disorder. Moreover, lead screening should be conducted immediately to rule out lead poisoning and, if detected, to minimize the negative effects of lead exposure.
Some states require pediatricians to regularly screen children under age three for lead exposure; however, many states do not. Lead poisoning is an environmental problem that can be prevented and treated. Often, however, exposure to lead goes undetected until the child’s physical or developmental symptoms are evident.
If a screening detects high lead levels, medical treatment such as “chelation therapy” may be necessary to remove lead from the body. Even low levels of lead exposure may cause ongoing health and developmental concerns. Some children with lead poisoning may need early intervention or special education services. All children with elevated lead levels will need ongoing screenings to monitor their health and may need significant environmental changes to minimize continued lead exposure.
Typically, laboratory screening for blood lead levels are recommended for any child with developmental delay and/or autism.