Number of newborn screening tests more than doubles in Washington

Newborns in Washington are now being screened for more disabling and life-threatening conditions than ever before.

The Washington State Department of Health's Newborn Screening program has more than doubled the number of screening tests it performs on newborns in our state from four to nine. The new tests, required by State Board of Health rules developed in cooperation with the department, have already proven their value for 29 Washington infants including four with potentially deadly conditions.

"We understand that parents are concerned about their newborn’s health; that’s why we’ve added more tests for life-threatening disorders and disabling conditions," said State Health Officer Dr. Maxine Hayes. "Newborn screening allows infants to be treated for disorders that would otherwise go undetected until they cause permanent damage or death."

Newborn screening is performed on every infant born in Washington to test for treatable disorders. Since universal testing of infants began in our state in 1977, nearly 1,000 babies have been diagnosed and treated for disorders that are otherwise disabling or deadly.

"By investing in the health of our children, we protect and improve the health of our state. The new screenings have already proven their value," said Secretary of Health Mary Selecky. Just days after the new tests were implemented, two infants with different life-threatening disorders were diagnosed and treated. Both of these infants are now doing well and receiving appropriate care.

"My second child was tested shortly after she was born. This allowed her to be diagnosed and begin treatment before she developed severe life threatening disease," said Laurra Corsello, mother of two children born with galactosemia. "I’m grateful that with the new screening, other parents won’t have to go through the ordeal that we had with our first child and possibly lose their baby to one of these preventable conditions."

Newborn screening is performed on a small sample of blood that is taken from the baby’s heel, dried on special paper and sent to the department’s Public Health Laboratories in Shoreline. The screening program is supported by a fee that is charged through the hospital.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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