New York State Tops Nation in Kids with High Lead Levels

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New York has the highest percentage of children under the age of 3 testing positive for elevated lead levels in the nation, according to the most recent data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 2014 data show that 21 states reported cases of children with elevated blood-lead levels in that age bracket.

However, not all states report childhood blood-lead levels to the CDC, notes HealthGrove, a health information website that published an examination of the data on Wednesday.

Among the 37 states that do report blood-lead levels to the CDC, New York reported that 1.46 percent of children younger that 72 months tested positive for elevated blood-lead levels -- the highest percentage in the nation.

New York City is excluded from the statewide data. The city reported 0.29 percent of children with elevated blood-lead levels in 2014, according to the CDC.

Elevated blood levels are defined as equal to or greater than 10 micrograms per deciliter of lead in blood for children. No safe blood-lead level in children has been identified, according to the CDC.

"Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention and academic achievement," the CDC website states. "And effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected."

Many cases of lead poisoning are traced to lead-based paint.

Elevated lead levels can also be linked to contaminated water, as in Flint, Michigan, which attracted national attention when it was learned that the percentage of children age 5 and younger with elevated blood-lead levels had nearly doubled after the city switched its primary source of water to the Flint River.

After New York, the states reporting the highest percentage of children with elevated blood-lead levels in 2014 were: Pennsylvania, 1.28 percent; Ohio, 0.96 percent; Rhode Island, 0.81 percent, Wisconsin, 0.77 percent; and Connecticut, 0.69 percent.

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