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The only way to know for sure if your child has an elevated blood lead level is to get a blood lead test. The Douglas County Health Department recommends that all children in Douglas County be screened for lead every year until the age of 7.

A blood lead test is a simple procedure where a small amount of blood is drawn from either the finger or a vein in the arm. The sample is then tested for lead.

A blood sample obtained by a finger stick (“capillary test”) is used to screen for elevated blood lead levels. In the event that an elevated blood lead level [ = (greater than or equal to) 5 micrograms per deciliter (ug/dL)] is identified by the finger stick method, a physician will then request that another blood sample be obtained, this time from a vein in the arm (“venous test”). A venous test will provide more accurate blood lead levels which can be used by the physician to make treatment recommendations. Sometimes the appropriate course of action is to simply monitor the child’s blood lead levels at regular intervals.

It is up to the individual physician to determine how a child is to be initially tested; however, all physicians agree that a venous test (blood drawn from a vein in the arm) is medically necessary to determine how to treat the child.

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