Secondary data analysis of lead screening compliance in high-risk children

Melody Hernandez, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Introduction. Despite the ban of lead-containing gasoline and paint, childhood lead poisoning remains a public health issue. Furthermore, a Medicaid-eligible child is 8 times more likely to have an elevated blood lead level (EBLL) than a non-Medicaid child, which is the primary reason for the early detection lead screening mandate for ages 12 and 24 months among the Medicaid population. Based on field observations, there was evidence that suggested a screening compliance issue. Objective. The purpose of this study was to analyze blood lead screening compliance in previously lead poisoned Medicaid children and test for an association between timely lead screening and timely childhood immunizations. The mean months between follow-up tests were also examined for a significant difference between the non-compliant and compliant lead screened children. Methods. Access to the surveillance data of all childhood lead poisoned cases in Bexar County was granted by the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District. A database was constructed and analyzed using descriptive statistics, logistic regression methods and non-parametric tests. Lead screening at 12 months of age was analyzed separately from lead screening at 24 months. The small portion of the population who were also related were included in one analysis and removed from a second analysis to check for significance. Gender, ethnicity, age of home, and having a sibling with an EBLL were ruled out as confounders for the association tests but ethnicity and age of home were adjusted in the nonparametric tests. Results. There was a strong significant association between lead screening compliance at 12 months and childhood immunization compliance, with or without including related children (p<0.00). However, there was no significant association between the two variables at the age of 24 months. Furthermore, there was no significant difference between the median of the mean months of follow-up blood tests among the non-compliant and compliant lead screened population for at the 12 month screening group but there was a significant difference at the 24 month screening group (p<0.01). Discussion. Descriptive statistics showed that 61% and 56% of the previously lead poisoned Medicaid population did not receive their 12 and 24 month mandated lead screening on time, respectively. This suggests that their elevated blood lead level may have been diagnosed earlier in their childhood. Furthermore, a child who is compliant with their lead screening at 12 months of age is 2.36 times more likely to also receive their childhood immunizations on time compared to a child who was not compliant with their 12 month screening. Even though there was no statistical significant association found for the 24 month group, the public health significance of a screening compliance issue is no less important. The Texas Medicaid program needs to enforce lead screening compliance because it is evident that there has been no monitoring system in place. Further recommendations include a need for an increased focus on parental education and the importance of taking their children for wellness exams on time.

Subject Area

Environmental Health|Public health

Recommended Citation

Hernandez, Melody, "Secondary data analysis of lead screening compliance in high-risk children" (2010). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1483755.