ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
New Insights Show Ginseng Fights Inflammation
Acupuncture Eases Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Drinking Cuts Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk
Bone Density Predicts Chances of Breast Cancer
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
CANCER
Green Tea Compound Slowed Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Smokeout '08: The Perfect Time to Quit
Smoking Exposure Now Linked to Colon, Breast Cancers
CAREGIVING
Transition From Home to Hospital Rarely Seamless
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
Robots May Come to Aging Boomers' Rescue
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Smog Tougher on the Obese
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
DIABETES
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
Low-Fat Diet Does Little to Alter Cholesterol Levels
Eating Less May Slow Aging Process
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Air Pollution Exposure May Slow Fetal Growth
Walkable Neighborhoods Keep the Pounds Off
Plastics Chemical Tied to Aggression in Young Girls
EYE CARE, VISION
FDA Goes After Unapproved Eye Washes, Skin Ointments
Blood Sugar Control Helps Diabetics Preserve Sight
Don't Lose Sight of Halloween Safety
FITNESS
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Swine Flu May Pose Problems for Pregnant Women
Spot light on Dani Antman New Lionheart teacher
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Arteries Age Twice as Fast in Smokers
Fondness for Fish Keeps Japanese Hearts Healthy
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Pool Chemicals Raise Kids Allergy, Asthma Risk
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
Family Medicine Cabinet Top Source Of Kid's Poisonings
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
MENTAL HEALTH
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Breast-Fed Baby May Mean Better Behaved Child
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
SENIORS
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Add your Article

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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