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Prevalence of elevated blood lead levels and risk factors among residents less than 6 years of age, Puerto Rico - 2010
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  • Alternative Title:
    J Public Health Manag Pract
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    Context Limited data exist about blood lead levels and potential exposures among children living in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Department of Health has no formal blood lead surveillance program. Objectives We assessed the prevalence of elevated BLLs [≥ 5 micrograms (μg) of lead per deciliter (dL) of blood], household environmental lead levels, and risk factors for BLL among children less than 6 years old living in Puerto Rico in 2010. Methods We used a population-based cross-sectional sampling strategy to enroll an island-representative sample of Puerto Rican children less than 6 years old. We estimate the island-wide weighted prevalence of elevated BLL, and conducted bivariable and multivariable linear regression analyses to ascertain risk factors for elevated BLLs. Results The analytic dataset included 363 households and 439 children less than 6 years old throughout Puerto Rico. The weighted geometric mean BLL of children less than 6 years old was 1.57 μg/dL [95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.27, 1.88). The weighted prevalence of children less than 6 years old with BLLs ≥ 5 μg/dL was 3.18% (95% CI = 0.93, 5.43) and for BLLs ≥ 10 μg/dL was 0.50% (95% CI = 0, 1.31). Higher mean BLLs were significantly associated with data collection during the summer months, a lead-related activity or hobby of anyone in the residence and maternal education less than 12 years. Few environmental lead hazards were identified. Conclusions The prevalence of elevated BLLs among Puerto Rican children less than 6 years old is comparable to the most recent (2007 – 2010) U.S. national estimate [BLLs ≥ 5 μg/dL = 2.6% (95% CI = 1.6, 4.0)]. Our findings suggest targeted screening of specific higher-risk groups of children less than 6 years old can replace island-wide or insurance specific policies of mandatory blood lead testing in Puerto Rico.
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