Originally published: June 18, 2014
QUESTION from Cristen (via Facebook)
My ND suggested that if I was nervous about having my 3yo and 5yo lead tested (due to the finger stick…I’m pretty sure my 5yo would cry, and my 3yo would FREAK the hell out, major trauma…) that she would do the test on ME and see what my number was, which would then help me decide about putting my kids through it, i.e. if mine was super low, odds are good that my kids are, too. That’s the theory anyway…
I think I could get my 5yo to do it, with lots of bribery, promises of a princess bandaid and whatnot, but I have my own appointment coming up, and wondered if it’s really accurate or not, given my larger size and age.
What say you?
From Len (Tamara’s husband.)
Unfortunately, no. Due to an adult’s greater body mass, it takes WAAAY more lead exposure to produce an elevated BLL in an adult than it does in a child.
This is not to say that lead exposure is not a serious matter for adults, nor that testing is not an important screening and diagnostic tool—just that it takes so much less lead exposure to poison a much smaller, developing young human vs. an adult that a very low BLL in a parent, is not predictive of a similarly low BLL in a small child living in the same environment.
The REVERSE scenario, however is a much different matter—if a parent tests positive, it likely indicates a recent or ongoing exposure to a lead source, and thus would be cause to precipitate immediately testing any children in that environment (as well as determining the source of the parent’s exposure—e.g. the child’s home, contaminated soil, or perhaps particulates transferred on the parent’s clothing or tracked in on shoes from outside the home—in the case of a parent who might come into contact regularly with paint, dust or debris from older buildings as a contractor, for instance, or might work in a contaminated older building his/herself.)
As for a child’s experience of a venous draw blood test, if there is a Children’s Hospital in your area, they usually have specialized pediatric phlebotomists who are usually remarkably skilled and experienced in working with little folks to minimize any pain/discomfort and fear. [It’s kind of miraculous to see the contrast between the average nurse or clinician doing a blood draw on a child and some of these super-pros (OMG—our kids, despite their initial resistance, once there, actually seemed to ENJOY the visit!]
Note: There is one exception—in a prenatal Mom’s BLL, the rule of thumb is that the baby will likely have a BLL that measures 80%-100% of the mother’s BLL.