Health inequities in childhood lead exposure

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Poverty compared to the state as a whole

There are many social and economic inequities that contribute to health, like income and housing. How do health outcomes like childhood lead exposure differ based on the poverty level of the person's area (county or neighborhood), and how do these differences compare to the state as a whole?

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, we compared the poverty level in each census tract to the poverty level in Minnesota to determine if a neighborhood had significantly different poverty than the state as a whole. We categorized each tract as lower than Minnesota, the same as Minnesota, or higher than Minnesota. Learn more about the health equity data.

Childhood lead exposure is related to poverty

Lead testing is not universal in Minnesota. Children with risk factors for lead exposure (i.e., living in a home built before 1950) are targeted for testing. Learn more about childhood lead screening guidelines (PDF) in Minnesota. 
 

Elevated blood lead levels among children tested, by neighborhood poverty level

 
Source of lead data: MDH Blood Lead Information System. Elevated blood lead levels (EBLLs) are defined as a confirmed result of 5 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL) or above for children under the age of 6 years between 2014 and 2018. Source of poverty data: 2017 American Community Survey 5-year estimates for child’s census tract of residence. Poverty for children under 5 years. 
 
Source of lead data: MDH Blood Lead Information System. Elevated blood lead levels (EBLLs) are defined as a confirmed result of 5 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL) or above for children under the age of 6 years between 2014 and 2018. Source of poverty data: 2017 American Community Survey 5-year estimates for child’s census tract of residence, children under 5 years. 

In the state as a whole, 0.9% of children tested for blood lead had an elevated level before the age of 6 for this time period (2014-2018).

Kids living in neighborhoods with higher childhood poverty are more than two times as likely to have lead poisoning compared to kids living in neighborhoods with average poverty (same as the Minnesota poverty level as a whole).

When compared to kids in neighborhoods with lower-than-average poverty, those with higher-than-average poverty were three and a half times as likely to have elevated blood lead levels.

For comparison, 14.8% of children under 5 years lived in poverty in Minnesota for this time period (2017 American Community Survey 5-year estimates). The 90% confidence interval for the Minnesota average was 14.3 – 15.3%. 


Poverty & race

Children of color and American Indian children are more likely to be living in poverty than white children. According to MDH’s 2017 Minnesota statewide health assessment, Minnesota children of color or children that identify as American Indian are 3 to 5 times more likely to be living in poverty than white children. 
 

Children living in poverty in Minnesota, by race and ethnicity

 
Source of data: 2015 American Community Survey. See page 10 of the 2017 Minnesota statewide health assessment
 
Source of lead data: MDH Blood Lead Information System. Elevated blood lead levels (EBLLs) are defined as a confirmed result of 5 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL) or above for children under the age of 6 years between 2014 and 2018. Source of poverty data: 2017 American Community Survey 5-year estimates for child’s census tract of residence, children under 5 years. 

 

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