Hackensack Chosen for Lead Poisoning Trial Site

3/2/2012

Hackensack’s Health Department was chosen to participate in a new lead poisoning testing trial program.

Using a grant from the New Jersey state Department of Health and Senior Services, the city Health Department is developing a pilot program to test the practicality of using a newer instrument that measures the amount of lead in children’s blood. The newer testing method, known as the LeadCare II system, helps detect and prevent childhood blood lead poisoning.

According to John Christ, the city’s health officer, the current most popular testing system involves two steps and two visits to a doctor: taking a blood sample, then analysis and discussion of lab results. The advantage of the LeadCare II system is that it provides instantaneous results, eliminating the need for a second doctor’s visit.

"This new system will allow us to screen more children," said Christ, who stated that there were less than 20 child blood lead poisoning cases in Hackensack annually. "It will double the time that our nurses can be here without the need for a second visit. Then we can bring the testing to a broader audience."

Partnerships with other programs and agencies including the federal WIC supplemental nutritional program based at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson are also facilitating the lead poisoning testing program in Hackensack, Christ said.

While the number of child blood lead poisoning cases in Hackensack might be relatively small, Christ pointed to the need to develop and maintain the testing program.

"Childhood lead poisoning is often an unseen problem," Christ said. "Children who are affected usually don’t have immediate symptoms. Increased levels of lead in the blood of children under five years of age can cause neurological problems and learning disabilities that are irreversible and permanent. In communities where there is older housing and leaded paint, there is always a risk. It’s important that we do these tests in the best way possible."

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