September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month

In this Aug. 13, 2019, photo, Dr. Jasmine Saavedra, left, a pediatrician at Esperanza Health Centers in Chicago, hands newborn Alondra Marquez to her mother, Esthela Nuñez, right, after examination. Doctors and public health experts warn of poor health outcomes and rising costs they say will come from sweeping changes that would deny green cards to many immigrants who use Medicaid, as well as food stamps and other forms of public assistance. (AP Photo/Amr Alfiky)
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (PR) -- September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month across the United States. 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.

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.

In Alabama, the newborn screen includes the bloodspot screening, hearing screening and pulse oximetry screening. Critical congenital heart disease is detected through the pulse oximetry screening. 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 need to know that their baby should have the newborn screening performed between 24-48 hours of age, and parents should also let the hospital know who their baby’s doctor will be to ensure timely follow-up if needed. Parents should also ask about the newborn screening results at their baby’s first doctor’s visit.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 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. 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.

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