MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A new analysis shows the lead poisoning level for children in Wisconsin is lower than in recent years, but is nearly as high as Flint, Michigan, where lead contamination caused a drinking water crisis.
Wisconsin Public Radio reports that the analysis released this week by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families includes data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services that shows 4.6 percent of children under the age of 6 who were tested in 2015 had lead poisoning. The rate in Flint was 4.9 percent.
Analysis author Leland Pan said the state's rate of lead poisoning among children is a serious issue because it can negatively affect a child's development.
"Lead poisoning is correlated with increased rates of learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, it hampers with brain development, it's correlated with increased aggression and juvenile incarceration," Pan said.
The report suggests that many children are exposed to lead-based paints in older homes. The state also has at least 176,000 lead service lines that carry drinking water to homes and businesses.
A disproportionate number of African-American children living in Wisconsin were also diagnosed with lead poisoning. The analysis referenced 2014 data from the Wisconsin DHS that showed 10 percent of the 16,221 black children under 6 who were tested had lead poisoning. Out of the 27,984 white children who were tested, only 2.9 percent had high blood lead levels.
The analysis provides recommendations for prevention, such as increased state supporting for public health departments and providing funding to restore accountability initiatives to increase the number of children tested for lead.