Childhood lead poisoning and the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for lead exposure

J Am Assoc Nurse Pract. 2014 May;26(5):238-47. doi: 10.1002/2327-6924.12112. Epub 2014 Mar 10.


Purpose: This article will give a brief history, review the latest guidelines, discuss risk factors and sources, and discuss screening, diagnosis, and management of lead poisoning in children. Additionally, the role of the nurse practitioner (NP) caring for children will be reviewed.

Data sources: Review of published literature on lead poisoning and the 2012 lead prevention guidelines of the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention (ACCLPP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Conclusions: While lead poisoning levels have decreased over the past several decades, newer research has shown that even low levels of lead in the blood can have negative effects on children's intelligence and neurodevelopment. As a result, ACCLPP of the CDC issued new, stricter lead prevention guidelines in 2012.

Implications for practice: Lead exposure and lead poisoning are pediatric public health risks. Studies have shown that no level of lead is considered safe, and the emphasis has shifted to primary prevention of lead exposure. Despite the focus on primary prevention, the NP must remain vigilant in history taking, exploring risk factors, and screening children in order to assure the best possible outcome.

Keywords: 2012 guidelines; Lead poisoning; children; lead exposure; primary care.

MeSH terms

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. / standards*
  • Disease Management*
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Lead Poisoning / complications
  • Lead Poisoning / diagnosis
  • Lead Poisoning / prevention & control
  • Lead Poisoning / therapy*
  • Pediatrics / methods*
  • Pediatrics / standards
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States