Blood lead testing by birth year: facts & figures

Children tested in Minnesota:

Children under age 6, and especially those aged 1 to 3, are most vulnerable to lead exposure. Testing the blood lead levels of children can help catch lead exposure before it has the most harmful effects.

Determining the number of children tested for blood lead before they are 3 years old is important to measure trends and identify disparities in testing coverage among those most at risk.

Lead testing is not universal in Minnesota. Children with risk factors for lead exposure (such as older housing or poverty status) are targeted for testing. This includes all children who live in Minneapolis or St. Paul and all children who receive services from Minnesota Care or Medical Assistance, as well as any child who lives in or regularly visits a home, childcare, or other building built before 1978. Learn more about Childhood Blood Lead Screening Guidelines for Minnesota (PDF).

Indicators on this page track blood lead testing by birth year (cohort method) and include blood lead tests up to 3 years of age.

Children tested in Minnesota, by birth year


Children tested by 3 years of age. Learn more about MN regions at SCHSAC Regions in Minnesota (PDF). Source: MDH Blood Lead Information System.

The percent of children tested increased from about 42% among children born in 2000 to about 81% among children born in 2011. Testing coverage rates vary across regions.

Children tested at 1-year and 2-year well child visits in Minnesota, by birth year


Children tested by 3 years of age. Source: MDH Blood Lead Information System.

Most recently, about 70% of children born in 2011 were tested around the time of their 1-year well-child visit (9-18 months) and 40% were tested around the time of their 2-year well-child visit (18-36 months). Only about a third of children were tested at both their 1- and 2-year well-child visits.

MDH guidelines recommend screening children who are at risk for lead exposure at both one and two years of age. At-risk children aged three to six who have not been previously screened should also be screened. Children tested at one year of age should be tested again at two years even if the blood lead level was low at the one-year test since risk behaviors related to lead exposure change as a child develops. In Minnesota, about half of children tested around one year of age are tested again at two years.

To see other tables and charts on childhood lead exposure, see: