ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
Naprapathy: A Hands-On Approach to Pain Management
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Vitamin K Doesn't Slow Bone Loss
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
Breast-feeding Might Shield Women From Rheumatoid Arthritis
CANCER
Well Water Might Raise Bladder Cancer Risk
Papaya Could Be a Cancer Fighter
More Cancer Tests Mean More False-Positive Results
CAREGIVING
3 Steps Might Help Stop MRSA's Spread
For Dialysis Patients, More Pills = Lower Quality of Life
Many Hospital Patients Can't ID Their Doctors
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
DIABETES
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Healthy Eating While On Vacation
Eating Vegan or Raw-Vegan at Regular Restaurants
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Heavy Traffic Can Be Heartbreaking
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
EYE CARE, VISION
Hybrid Cars Pose Risk to Blind, Visually Impaired
Protein Might One Day Prevent Blindness
Eye Care Checkups Tied to Insurance Status
FITNESS
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
Be Healthy, Spend Less
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Eat Light - Live Longer
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Help Your Kids Stay Active
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
Quick Orthopedic Repair Can Save Young Shoulders
MEN'S HEALTH
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
MENTAL HEALTH
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
The Unmedicated Mind
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
SENIORS
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Simple Carbs Pose Heart Risk for Women
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
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Newborn Screenings Now Required Across U.S.

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Four years ago, only about one in three babies in the United States was born in a state that required newborn to be screened for a host of conditions. But by the end of 2008, all 50 states and the District of Columbia had either laws or rules requiring newborn screening for at least 21 disorders, a new report finds.

"The states have really made outstanding progress in expanding newborn screening programs," said Jennifer Howse, president of the March of Dimes, which issued the report Wednesday.

The panel of tests checks for genetic, metabolic, hormonal and functional disorders, according to the organization. Many of the disorders cause no visible symptoms in a baby until after damage, often permanent, is done. Some of the disorders lead to mental retardation, and others end in death.

The first test that was made available was for phenylketonuria (PKU), a condition in which the body can't process part of a protein called phenylalanine. The disorder affects about one child in every 25,000 born in the United States, according to the March of Dimes. Left untreated, phenylalanine accumulates in the body and can cause serious brain damage and mental retardation. Changes in diet can prevent these problems from occurring, but the diet must be started soon after birth and followed for the rest of the child's life to prevent brain damage.

Another disorder now tested for is congenital hypothyroidism, which affects an estimated one in 5,000 U.S. babies. Replacement thyroid hormone is considered a simple and effective treatment for the disorder. But without a newborn screening test, treatment might not begin until the lack of thyroid hormone causes brain and growth retardation.

"Any time you can proactively identify a problem and treat it, you can avoid a lot of complications and lifelong consequences," said Dr. Jamie Grifo, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City. "Hopefully, we'll have a national standard on newborn screening that will benefit all children."

Howse said the March of Dimes continues to work toward that goal. As of last year, about half of all states tested newborns for all 29 conditions recommended by the American College of Medical Genetics. "We're going to remain in watchdog status and keep moving to close the gap," she said. "We're also going to pay close attention to make sure we keep the gains intact in this tough economy."

The March of Dimes estimates that about 4,000 babies with metabolic disorders were discovered via newborn screening in 2004, and another 12,000 were found to have a hearing impairment.

"Hearing problems are a more frequent occurrence, and it's important to catch when children are newborns," Howse said.

A complete newborn screening that tests for all 29 conditions costs about $100, according to Howse, and is covered by most insurance companies.

"What's more expensive is if the conditions are missed and kids need catastrophic care," she said. "And the human consequences are tragic."

Dr. Jerry Vockley, director of genetics at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, said that he can recall one devastating case from the pre-screening era in which a child had one of the disorders that's now tested for and ended up in intensive care for several months. He said the cost was between $500,000 and $1 million.

"It doesn't take too many of those kids to win back the cost of the entire screening program," Vockley said. "It's very cost-effective."

Vockley said he's glad for the state mandates because they might make it easier to garner resources to treat infants, but he pointed out that a lot of hospitals were doing the screening tests long before they became required by their state.

Howse recommended that expectant parents check with their doctor to find out what screening tests are done in the hospital and, if the testing doesn't cover all 29 conditions, that parents arrange to have the additional tests done.

-Serena Gordon

More information

Read more about newborn screenings at the March of Dimes.



SOURCES: Jennifer Howse, Ph.D., president, March of Dimes, White Plains, N.Y.; Jerry Vockley, M.D. director of genetics, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh; Jamie Grifo, M.D., Ph.D., professor of obstetrics/gynecology, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York City

Last Updated: Feb. 18, 2009

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