WXXI Local Stories
9:31 am
Wed June 29, 2011

Child Lead Poisoning Numbers Increase

Rochester, NY – The Monroe County Health Department is reporting a slight increase in area childhood lead poisoning cases in 2010.

290 children under the age of six were diagnosed with lead poisoning last year, up from 283 in 2009. The increase follows a decade of steady decline in the number of reported cases.

Officials are trying to determine what factors contributed to the upswing. Dr. Stanley Schaffer, director of the Western New York resource center at the University of Rochester, says complacency is playing a role, "Frankly medical providers, physicians, nurse practitioner, other medical providers are just seeing fewer, and fewer kids with high lead levels. And they are becoming more complacent and just not strongly urging parents to their children tested as they would have done in previous years."

Schaffer says children are at a higher risk of lead exposure during the summer -- when they play outside near old porches with peeling paint. The data also show fewer children are being tested for lead. New York State requires children to be tested for lead poisoning at the ages of one and two.