September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month

Published 2:16 pm Monday, September 16, 2019

By J.R. TIDWELL / Editor

September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month across the United States. According to a release from the Alabama Department of Public Health, newborn screening is a state public health program that identifies newborns who may have a genetic, metabolic or other congenital disorder that may not be apparent at birth.

“If left untreated, newborn screening conditions may cause serious illness, developmental disability, intellectual impairment or death,” said ADPH in the release. “Each year in Alabama, approximately 200 babies are identified with a condition detected through newborn screening. The screening allows treatment to be initiated within the first few weeks of life, treating many of the complications associated with newborn screening disorders such as sickle cell disease and cystic fibrosis.”

Screenings of newborns in Alabama includes the bloodspot screening, hearing screening and pulse oximetry screening.

“Critical congenital heart disease is detected through the pulse oximetry screening,” according to ADPH. “The Alabama newborn screening panel includes 31 of 35 disorders recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In October 2018, Alabama added screening for severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), otherwise known as ‘bubble boy disease.’”

Parents are advised to have all newborns screened between the ages of 24 and 48 hours old. They are also advised to let the hospital the child was born in know who the newborn’s physician will be in order to speed up any necessary follow-up and to ask about the screening results at the baby’s first doctor visit.

According to the release, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe newborn screening is one of the top public health achievements in modern history. “Newborn screening continues to expand as more disorders are being recommended to the national panel,” said the ADPH. “The Alabama Department of Public Health Bureau of Clinical Laboratories and Bureau of Family Health Services work in conjunction to screen, follow up, and provide newborn screening awareness and education in order to improve the lives of Alabama’s babies.”