Expert says newborn health screening inconsistent throughout the U.S.

According to the March of Dimes, although every state requires newborn babies to receive health checks, requirements vary widely among the individual states.

President Jennifer Howse, PhD, says that parents need to be aware that the extent of newborn screening for serious and treatable disorders depends entirely on the state in which their baby is born.

The March of Dimes reports that although dozens of states require expanded newborn screening, only Mississippi requires all 29 of the tests recommended by experts.

These tests include metabolic conditions, cystic fibrosis, and hearing problems.

There are at present only 23 states that require more than 20 tests and they are as follows:

  • Alaska: 27 tests
  • Connecticut: 28
  • Delaware: 25
  • Hawaii: 28
  • Idaho: 27
  • Illinois: 27
  • Indiana: 28
  • Iowa: 28
  • Maryland: 27
  • Mississippi: 29
  • Nevada: 27
  • New Jersey: 22
  • New York: 28
  • North Carolina: 25
  • North Dakota: 26
  • Ohio: 26
  • Oregon: 22
  • South Carolina: 27
  • South Dakota: 27
  • Tennessee: 26
  • Vermont: 24
  • Wisconsin: 28

Minnesota now although it requires 27 tests, has not implemented all of them.

Howse says although there is a growing understanding that newborn screening is a simple, safe, and efficient way to prevent a potentially devastating problem, much more work remains to be done.

Howse notes for example, that only eight states require screening for cystic fibrosis in infants, and this is regardless of the fact that CF is one of the most common genetic diseases in America.

She urges the continued expansion of newborn screening programs in order that all babies across America receive the benefits of testing for all of the 29 core conditions.

Screening is carried out by testing a few drops of blood, usually from the newborn's heel, prior to hospital discharge.

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