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Health

EXCLUSIVE: Reuters uncovers major gaps in lead testing

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Health

EXCLUSIVE: Reuters uncovers major gaps in lead testing

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COMING UP:EXCLUSIVE: Reuters uncovers major gaps in lead testing

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Transcript

00:00:00
>> Jada how do you like being->> Bubbly and energetic, in many ways Jada is a typical child. But the four year old from the Bronx, New York was recently found to have toxic levels of lead in her blood. Four times higher than what the Centers for Disease Control says is too much.
00:00:14
Her diagnosis highlights the importance of testing for lead. 11 states and the District of Columbia require all children have their blood screened. Medicaid, which covers about a third of all kids in the US, does the same for its members nationwide. But a Reuters investigation finds millions of children are falling through the cracks.
00:00:33
Investigative reporter Joshua Schneyer looked at testing rates at health departments across the country.>> What we found was that among Medicaid children, only about 41% were getting the test that Medicaid requires. Among those states that require universal testing for all children, we found states that the data showed that less than half the children were getting all of the tests that were required by the state.
00:00:59
Children may miss wellness visits, they may miss pediatrician visits. And some pediatricians may be unaware or less aware than they should be about the rules, and there is little enforcement of those testing requirements.>> While rates of lead poisoning have fallen as much as 90% since the late 1970s, when lead based paints were banned in the US.
00:01:19
The issue came back into the national spotlight earlier this year, after news that the water in Flint, Michigan had been tainted by corroded pipes. Prolonged exposure, whether through water, paint, or even household items like imported toys or cookware, is particularly harmful to young children. Whose developing bodies can readily absorb the metal, leading to reduced attention spans, lifelong learning disabilities, and in the worst cases, coma or death.
00:01:44
Jada's grandmother says she's had hyperactivity and a speech impediment. But she's in a better situation than many. She's undergone speech therapy, and once inspectors found lead paint in her home, her family was able to relocate to temporary housing operated by Montefiore Hospital, and used to keep poisoned children away from the homes where they were exposed to lead.
00:02:03
>> We didn't want to discharge a kid back home after spending five, six days in the hospital to the place they got lead poison, if nothing had been done to fix it. Because they were gonna come right back and potentially much worse, end up in the intensive care unit and sethalapathic or dying from it.
00:02:19
So we started having a temporary apartment that the hospital had as guest housing and we filled that and we filled two. And then they got us a building.>> But many families have no way of knowing if their children had been exposed to lead. Reuters found, for example, that despite a New York State law requiring universal testing, in some counties, fewer than 10% of children had been screened as the state rules require.