Two disorders added to newborn screening panel
RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Two disorders have been added to Virginia’s newborn screening program, which helps to detect life-threatening conditions in infants.
Governor Glenn Youngkin announced on Wednesday that the program will now also search for Spinal Muscular Atrophy and X-linked Adrenoleukodystrophy.
According to a release, this screening program is a panel of metabolic and genetic disorders, which range from more well-known conditions like Cystic Fibrosis to more obscure ones that can cause severe sickness, physical or mental disabilities, or even death if not diagnosed early.
“While these disorders are rare, the ability to diagnose and treat them early is life-changing and possibly life-saving for these babies,” Youngkin said. “Every child born in Virginia deserves the best possible start in life, and our dedicated scientists and nurses in the newborn screening program have committed their lives to making sure that happens.”
The release says the screening program is a partnership between the Department of General Services’ Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services and the Virginia Department of Health.
It was first created in 1966, and state law requires all babies born in Virginia to be screened except when the parents have a religious objection.
It tests dried blood samples that come from pricking the baby’s heel between 24 and 48 hours after birth, looking for 33 disorders when the two new ones are added.
The release says this program also screens for Critical Congenital Heart Defect and a hearing test to identify congenital hearing loss, both of which will take place before the baby leaves the hospital.
Should a baby fail an initial hearing screening, it will be tested for congenital Cytomegalovirus, a viral infection that can cause hearing loss.
“For parents of a baby identified on a newborn screen with one of these disorders, VDH newborn screening nurses are able to assist them as they seek appropriate follow-up diagnostic testing and referral to consultants,” said Acting State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “By screening for these disorders shortly after birth, and linking families with specialists and resources, we are protecting the health of Virginia’s youngest residents by promoting timely diagnosis and treatment for optimal outcomes.”
SMA affects about one out of every 11,000 births in the United States and can affect a baby’s ability to swallow, breathe, sit and walk.
Without treatment, it could lead to premature death.
X-ALD makes it so that certain fats cannot be broken down in the body, and the buildup of those fats affects the nervous system and adrenal glands.
The symptoms of this disorder vary widely and it disproportionately affects males. Six of every 100,000 babies born in the U.S. will be diagnosed with this disorder.
Each year, the program performs about four million screening tests on about 100,000 samples.
The VDH’s newborn screening staff follows up on more than 20,000 infants annually, helping to get babies referred to the appropriate specialists so they get the care they need.
The release says the Virginia Newborn Screening Advisory Committee recommended adding these two new disorders to the panel after they were put on the national Recommended Uniform Screening Panel, which is a list of disorders the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services says states should screen for based on evidence regarding the benefit of screening and the availability of effective treatments.