23 Apr USPSTF: More Research Needed to Determine What Primary Care Providers Can Do to Detect and Treat Lead Poisoning
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Alex H. Krist, MD, MPH
Vice-Chairperson, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
Professor of family medicine and population healt
Virginia Commonwealth University
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Exposure to lead can have serious lifelong effects on the health and wellbeing of children. There is no safe level of lead exposure, so finding and removing any source of lead exposure is essential.
In its review of the evidence, the Task Force found that more research is needed to determine what primary care clinicians can do to help prevent and treat the health problems that can result from lead exposure in childhood and pregnancy.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Until there is more research, clinicians should use their best judgment about whether or when to screen for blood lead levels and keep up-to-date on whether there are concerns about lead in their community. If anyone has concerns about lead exposure, they should talk to their clinician and others in the community who can help.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Research is needed to better evaluate the effectiveness of treatments for lead exposure. For children, research is needed to develop questionnaires that ask about current risk factors, such as water contamination. We also need to improve our ability to identify risk factors that are specific to pregnant women. In addition, there are different sources of lead exposure emerging in at-risk communities. More research on screening and prevention in these populations is needed.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: While there have been important advances in reducing lead exposure in recent decades, sources of exposure – such as contaminated drinking water and lead piping – still exist. More research is needed to determine what primary care clinicians can do to help prevent and treat the health problems that can result from lead exposure. In the meantime, efforts to remove lead from homes, schools, and other environments can help prevent lead exposure before it happens.
US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for Elevated Blood Lead Levels in Children and Pregnant Women: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. JAMA. 2019;321(15):1502–1509. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.3326
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