Wednesday, September 25, 2013

September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month


This year marks the 50th anniversary of newborn screening. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Newborn screening is one of the nation's most successful public health programs.” 




Newborn screening involves collecting five drops of blood from a newborn baby before the baby goes home from the hospital.  This small amount of blood is sent to the CDPHE laboratory and tested for 37 diseases.  These diseases range from the familiar – such as Sickle Cell Anemia and Cystic Fibrosis – to the unfamiliar, such as Medium Chain acyl-coA Dehydrogenase Deficiency.

Newborns with these conditions show no symptoms at birth, but quickly develop complications from the disorder.  Unless these conditions are found and treated in the first days or weeks of life, affected children will suffer (depending upon the disease) lifelong pain and illness, organ failure, devastating mental and physical disability, and sometimes death. With early diagnosis and treatment, these children can develop normally and the symptoms of the diseases can be eliminated or alleviated.

Each year four million babies are screened in the US and many thousands of tragedies are avoided.  Colorado began screening in 1979.  About 50 Colorado babies a year receive early diagnosis and treatment through the newborn screening program. More information about newborn screening can be found at coloradostatelab.us, marchofdimes.comsavebabies.org, and newbornscreening.info (English and Spanish).  Contact Laura Taylor for more information.

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