ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Indigo Ointment Benefits Psoriasis Patients
38% of U.S. Adults Use Alternative Treatments
Quit Smoking the Holistic Way
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
More Faces Being Spared in Motor Vehicle Accidents
Autumn Sees More Women With Bunion Problems
Get in Step With Summer Foot Care
CANCER
Vitamin C Shows Promise as Cancer Treatment
Gene Screen May Predict Colon Cancer's Return
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
CAREGIVING
Health Tip: Benefitting From Adult Day Care
Study Links Pesticides to Birth Defects
3 Steps Might Help Stop MRSA's Spread
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
DIABETES
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
B Vitamins Might Lower Stroke Risk
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Common Pesticide Tied to Development Delays in Kids
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
As Earth Warms, Lyme Disease Could Flourish
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Disease, Cognitive Decline Linked in Study
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
Diabetic Hispanics Missing Out on Eye Exams
FITNESS
Exercise Cuts Lung Cancer Risk in Ex-Smokers by 45%
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Good Warm-Ups Could Halve Sports Injuries
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Spread of Swine Flu in Japan Could Raise WHO Alert to Highest Level
Lower Vitamin D Levels in Blacks May Up Heart Risks
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
A Little Alcohol May Help the Heart: Studies
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Safety Should Be Priority for Those Involved in Kids' Sports
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
Babies Who Eat Fish Lower Eczema Risk
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Chocolate a Sweet Pick-Me-Up for the Depressed
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
Worries About Weight Are Tied to Teen Suicide Tries
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
SENIORS
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
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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