Indiana House Bill Would Require Doctors to Lead Screen Young Patients
One proposed Indiana House Bill would require doctors to test for lead in young patients.
Dangers of Lead
Lead exposure can cause a number of very serious health issues, especially in children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to lead can lead to brain and nervous system damage, slowed growth, and developmental delays, as well as problems with learning, hearing, and speech.
How Does Lead Exposure Happen
Unfortunately, lead is not visible to the naked eye, and it has no smell either, making it imperceptible without specialized testing. Prior to 1978 lead-based paint was frequently used in homes and buildings and that paint is notorious for chipping and peeling, releasing lead particles into the surrounding areas - whether it's a windowsill or the dirt on the ground outside. The CDC says lead exposure can also happen from exposure to some toys and jewelry, as well as some cosmetics and medicines. Even drinking water can be contaminated with lead if it is fed through lead pipes and plumbing.
No safe level of lead in children has been identified. Even low levels of lead in blood can hurt a child’s ability to learn, pay attention, and do well in school.
The good news is that childhood lead poisoning is preventable.
Lead Screenings in Indiana
Currently, while lead screening is encouraged for children in Indiana, it is only required for children ages 12 and 24 months who are enrolled in Indiana Medicaid, according to the Indiana Department of Health. Also, any child enrolled in Indiana Medicaid between the ages of three and six years that do not have a record of a previous lead screening is also required to be tested.
Indiana House Bill 1313
The goal of Indiana House Bill 1313 is to establish testing guidelines for Hoosier children and lead poisoning. Authored by Indiana Republican Representative, Brad Barrett, the bill would require the Indiana Department of Health to establish guidance and appropriate standards for screening. It would also mandate that medical providers test children under the age of 6 years old. The digest for House Bill 1313 reads,
Screening children for lead poisoning. Requires the state department of health to establish guidance and standards for health care providers for screening children in Indiana for lead poisoning from January 1, 2023, through December 31, 2026. Requires a health care provider who provides health care services to a child who is less than six years of age to take certain actions concerning a blood lead screening test from January 1, 2023, through December 31, 2026. Specifies that a parent or guardian is not required to have their child receive a blood lead screening test.