DefinitionPercent of New Jersey children tested for lead exposure before 36 months of age
NumeratorNumber of children tested for lead exposure before 3 years of age, born in a specified year in a geographic area
DenominatorNumber of live births to New Jersey resident mothers in a specified year in a geographic area
Why Is This Important?Lead is a heavy metal that has been widely used in industrial processes and consumer products. When absorbed into the human body, lead can have damaging effects on the brain and nervous system, kidneys, and blood cells. Lead exposure is particularly hazardous for pre-school children because their brains and nervous systems are still rapidly developing. Serious potential effects of lead exposure on the nervous system include: learning disabilities, hyperactivity, hearing loss and mental retardation.
The primary method for lead to enter the body is through eating or breathing lead-containing substances. Major sources of lead exposure to children are: peeling or deteriorated leaded paint; lead-contaminated dust created by renovation or removal of lead-containing paint; and lead contamination brought home by adults who work in an occupation that involves lead, or who engage in a hobby where lead is used. Lead exposure can also occur through consuming drinking water or food which contains lead.
How Are We Doing?Exposure to lead is measured by a blood test. New Jersey regulations require health care providers to test for lead exposure among all one- and two-year old children.
The percent of children in New Jersey who were tested for lead exposure before 3 years of age increased from 65% for children born in 2000 to almost 75% for children born in 2014.
The percentage of children tested for lead exposure before 3 years of age among children born in 2014 was highest in Essex (89.9%), Hunterdon (84.4) and Union (83.6%) Counties. The lowest testing rates were in Sussex (59.9%) and Gloucester (55.3%) Counties.
What Is Being Done?The New Jersey Department of Health (NJ DOH) maintains a Child Health Program, [http://nj.gov/health/childhoodlead/]. This program coordinates a surveillance system that collects information from laboratories regarding the results of blood lead tests performed on children in New Jersey, identifies children with elevated test results, and notifies local health departments regarding children with elevated blood lead tests who reside in their jurisdiction.
Health Program InformationAdditional information on surveillance and services related to the prevention of childhood lead poisoning can be obtained from the New Jersey Department of Health. Resources include: videos, fact sheets, educational materials, and resources for screening and case management.
New Jersey Department of Health,
Division of Family Health Services,
Maternal, Child and Community Health,
Child and Adolescent Health Program,
P.O. Box 364,
Trenton, NJ 08625-0364,