Many health challenges have been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the latest coronavirus update in Trenton on Monday, State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said one of them is a 20% decrease in childhood lead testing. All children should be screened for lead at ages 1 and 2 or at least once before they're 6.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that fewer children were tested during the pandemic because medical offices, schools and daycare centers were closed.

In the meantime, children spent more time at home last year, increasing their risk of exposure to lead paint and contaminated dust, which can lead to developmental delays and behavioral problems.

Preliminary 2020 data indicates 144,000 children were tested in New Jersey, and of that group 3,348 or 2.8% had elevated blood lead levels, an increase of 29% from the previous year.

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Persichilli pointed out the state Health Department will partner with the New Jersey Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to improve screening rates.

State law mandates all physicians, registered nurses and licensed health care facilities that provide services to children less than 72 months of age perform blood lead level screening for all children regarding of the potential risk they face or their geographical location.

Additionally she said she will be sending a letter to healthcare providers “urging them to contact parents to re-schedule missed well visits.”

She stressed “all children should be screened for lead at ages 1 year and 2 years of age,or if not previously screened at these ages at least once before their 6th birthday.”

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