To compare prevalence estimates for blood lead level ≥10.0 μg/dL (elevated blood lead level [EBLL]) with numbers reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for children 12 months to 5 years of age from 1999 to 2010 on a state-by-state basis.


State-specific prevalence estimates were generated based on the continuous NHANES according to newly available statistical protocols. Counts of case reports were based on the 39 states (including the District of Columbia) reporting to the CDC Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program during the study period. Analyses were conducted both including and excluding states and years of nonreporting to the CDC.


Approximately 1.2 million cases of EBLL are believed to have occurred in this period, but 607 000 (50%) were reported to the CDC. Including only states and years for which reporting was complete, the reporting rate was 64%. Pediatric care providers in 23 of 39 reporting states identified fewer than half of their children with EBLL. Although the greatest numbers of reported cases were from the Northeast and Midwest, the greatest numbers based on prevalence estimates occurred in the South. In southern and western states engaged in reporting, roughly 3 times as many children with EBLL were missed than were diagnosed.


Based on the best available estimates, undertesting of blood lead levels by pediatric care providers appears to be endemic in many states.

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