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Department of Health – Lead Tests Can Give False Results, Advises Parents About Re-Testing Their Children

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) recommends parents with children less than 6 years old who had a venous blood lead test drawn before May 17, 2017 consult with their health care provider to determine whether their child should be retested. This advisory does not apply if the child was tested with a finger or heel stick. Additionally, pregnant women and nursing mothers who had a venous blood lead test before May 17, 2017 should consult a health care provider about retesting.

In May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning about Magellan Diagnostics’ LeadCare® analyzers used by some Hawaii laboratories. Magellan blood lead tests on blood drawn from a vein may provide falsely low results. The warning does not apply to capillary blood test results collected by finger stick or heel stick.When the warning was issued, DOH contacted local independent testing laboratories using Magellan Diagnostics’ LeadCare® analyzers. The DOH also contacted the chief medical officers of all health care facilities statewide. Working closely with laboratories throughout the state, and as more information became available, it was determined that a substantial number of children’s test results in Hawaii may have been affected. At this time, the exact number of inaccurate blood lead test results received within the state is not known.

“It’s very important to identify children who may have been exposed to lead” said DOH Director, Dr. Virginia Pressler. “The faulty test underestimates low blood lead levels and even low levels of lead exposure may cause adverse health effects such as learning and behavior problems in young children. If your child was tested for lead with blood drawn from a vein from 2014 to May 17, 2017, please contact your health care provider to discuss the need for retesting.”

For further questions on lead exposure contact the Hawaii Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Information on the national safety alert is available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/about/blood_lead_test_safety_alert.html