To determine the proportion of children living in pre-1950 housing who are correctly identified by parental report as being at risk for lead poisoning.
Cross-sectional survey of parents. Parents' answers about the age of their home were compared with the age of the home found in tax assessor records.
The resident continuity clinic at an urban medical center and 4 private pediatric practices.
A convenience sample of 199 parents accompanying children to their 9-month to 2-year well-child care visits. All parents agreed to participate. Twenty-six were excluded because they lived outside the predetermined geographic area or because the age of their home could not be confirmed, leaving 173 in the sample.
Main Outcome Measure
We calculated the sensitivity of asking parents the age of their home in determining which children were at risk for lead poisoning because of residence in pre-1950 housing.
According to tax assessor records, 42 children lived in or spent time in homes built before 1950. Of these 42 children, 22 of their parents reported this exposure when asked, for a sensitivity of 52% (95% confidence interval, 37%-67%). If a questionnaire was used to determine whether the child should be tested for lead poisoning, 20 of the 42 children who lived in older homes would not have been tested.
Asking parents about the age of their home is no better than chance at determining which children are at risk for lead poisoning because of residence in older housing.