OBJECTIVE. The objective of this study was to measure the effectiveness of intensive case management to reduce blood lead levels (BLLs) in children. Lead poisoning remains a common, preventable pediatric condition despite advances in reducing children's BLLs in the United States. Substantial evidence implicates lead paint–contaminated house dust as the most common high-dose source of lead in children's environments. Housekeeping and parental supervision also may contribute to risk for lead exposure.
METHODS. We conducted a community-based, randomized trial of comprehensive education and home visiting for families of children with BLLs 15 to 19 μg/dL. BLLs after 1 year of follow-up were compared for intervention group children, whose families received individualized education that was designed to address specific risks factors in a child's environment, and comparison group children, whose families received customary care, usually 1 or 2 educational visits. Environmental samples were collected at baseline and after 1 year of follow-up for intervention group children and compared with those of comparison group children, collected only at the end of study.
RESULTS. During the follow-up period, parents of intervention group children (n = 92) successfully decreased dust lead levels and significantly improved parent-child interaction and family housekeeping practices compared with comparison group children (n = 83). Overall geometric mean BLLs declined by 47%, and the difference in BLL by group was not significant (9 vs 8.3 μg/dL for intervention versus comparison group children, respectively.) After 1 year, nearly half of enrolled children had BLLs ≥10 μg/dL.
CONCLUSIONS. Until a reservoir of lead-safe housing is created, programs that educate families to reduce environmental exposure are needed. Although providing families with quantitative information regarding lead contamination may have a role in short-term efforts to prevent lead exposure, these null findings suggest that it has little benefit once BLLs are elevated.