Tracking Childhood Lead Poisoning in Vermont

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Vermont was the first state to define an elevated blood lead level as 5 µg/dL or more.

About 70% of homes in Vermont were built before 1978, the year lead in house paint was banned.

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Lead is a highly toxic metal that has been commonly used in many household, industrial and automobile products—such as paint, solder, batteries, brass, car radiators, bullets, pottery, etc. Lead poisoning is a serious but preventable health problem. Too much lead in the body can cause serious and permanent health problems. Children and pregnant women are at special risk.

The only way to find out if a child has been exposed to too much lead is by a blood test. A blood test measures the amount of lead in blood. Blood tests are commonly used to screen children for lead poisoning and can be easily done at a child’s regular checkup. Vermont law requires that all children be tested at ages 1 and 2.

What data about lead are included in the Vermont Tracking portal?

Vermont Tracking provides blood lead level data for young children in two overall categories:

  1. Birth Cohort Data
  2. Annual Data
What information about birth cohorts is available?

A birth cohort is a group of individuals born during the same period or year. For blood lead data in Tracking, the birth cohort is the number of children born in a particular calendar year who are then followed until they reach their third birthday. The 2000 birth cohort (children born in 2000) is the earliest lead data in Vermont Tracking. Data for this 2000 birth cohort are shown under the year 2003, which is the year these children turned 3. Tracking presents data for:

  • Number of Children Tested Before Age 3
  • Percent of Children Tested Before Age 3
  • Number of Tested Children with Elevated Blood Lead Levels
  • Percent of Tested Children with Elevated Blood Lead Levels
  • Number of Tested Children by Category of Blood Lead Test Results
  • Percent of Tested Children by Category of Blood Lead Test Results

If a child has had more than one blood test before age 3, a process defined by the national tracking program determines which blood lead result is used for that child’s blood lead level. Elevated blood lead levels are shown by both Vermont’s definition (any test 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL) of blood and greater) and CDC’s definition (confirmed tests 10 µg/dL of blood and greater).

What data other than blood lead levels are included in the Vermont Tracking portal?

Housing Data
The most common way that children become lead poisoned in Vermont is from lead-based paint and dust in older homes. Vermont Tracking provides the number and percentage of homes built before 1950, between 1950 and 1979, and after 1979.

Poverty Data
Children who live in poverty are considered to be a population at higher risk for lead poisoning. Vermont Tracking provides data on the number and percentage of children younger than 5 years who are living in poverty.