OBJECTIVE: This study uses screening and hospitalization data to describe the prevalence of childhood lead poisoning in Chicago and the rest of the state of Illinois. METHODS: The authors used aggregate data published by the Illinois Department of Public Health on blood lead testing of children ages 0-6 years and data on lead-related hospital admissions of children ages 0-6 years, drawn from an administrative dataset compiled as part of a state initiative. RESULTS: No clear time trends in the percentage of children with elevated blood lead levels (defined as >15 micrograms per deciliter [microg/dL] or >45 microg/dL) were evident in either Chicago or the rest of Illinois. The proportions of children with elevated blood lead levels in Chicago and in the rest of Illinois did not decline at the dramatic rate seen in the US as a whole during the 1990s. Over a five-year period, in-hospital charges of $7.7 million were generated for the care of lead-poisoned children ages 6-16 in Chicago alone. CONCLUSION: Surveillance data, analyzed at the appropriate geographic level, can be used to focus resources on high-risk areas and to evaluate prevention efforts
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