CDC recommends retesting for certain children, pregnant women and nursing mothers
May 17, 2017
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning Americans that certain lead tests manufactured by Magellan Diagnostics may provide inaccurate results for some children and adults in the United States. The CDC recommends that parents of children younger than six years (72 months) of age, and currently pregnant women and nursing mothers who have been tested for lead exposure consult a health care professional about whether they should be retested.
“The FDA is deeply concerned by this situation and is warning laboratories and health care professionals that they should not use any Magellan Diagnostics’ lead tests with blood drawn from a vein,” said Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “The agency is aggressively investigating this complicated issue to determine the cause of the inaccurate results and working with the CDC and other public health partners to address the problem as quickly as possible.”
The FDA’s warning is based on currently available data that indicate Magellan lead tests, when performed on blood drawn from a vein, may provide results that are lower than the actual level of lead in the blood. Currently, the FDA believes the issue may date back to 2014. The warning includes all four of Magellan Diagnostics’ lead testing systems: LeadCare; LeadCare II; LeadCare Plus; and LeadCare Ultra. At this time, all LeadCare systems can be used with blood from a finger or heel stick, including the LeadCare II system – a system found in many doctors’ offices and clinics. In addition, some laboratories offer other methods of lead testing, which are not believed to be affected at this time.
The CDC is recommending that health care professionals retest children younger than six years (72 months) of age at the time of this alert (May 17, 2017) if their test was conducted using blood drawn from a vein using any Magellan Diagnostics’ LeadCare System tests and received a result of less than 10 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL). The CDC also recommends that women, who are currently pregnant or nursing and were tested in this manner while pregnant or nursing, get retested. Other adults who are concerned about their risk or the risk to an older child should speak to their health care professional about whether they should be retested.
“We understand that parents of children and others affected by this problem will be concerned about what this means for their health,” said Patrick Breysse, Ph.D., director of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health. “While most children likely received an accurate test result, it is important to identify those whose exposure was missed, or underestimated, so that they can receive proper care. For this reason, because every child’s health is important, the CDC recommends that those at greatest risk be retested.”
Lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body, produces no obvious symptoms, and frequently goes unrecognized, potentially leading to serious health issues. Lead poisoning is particularly dangerous to infants and young children. While recommendations for lead screening differ from state to state, all states require children to be screened for lead exposure. Some adults are also at risk for lead exposure, including those who work around products or materials that contain lead.
The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, promotes and protects the public health by, among other things, assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.
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