ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Birds Don't Miss a Beat
Acupuncture May Trigger Natural Painkiller
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Cane Use May Cut Progression of Knee Osteoarthritis
Improved Hip Implants Can Last 20 Years
Autumn Sees More Women With Bunion Problems
CANCER
To Quit Smoking, Try Logging On
Many Ignore Symptoms of Bladder Trouble
U.S. Reported 25,000 Cases of HPV-Related Cancers Annually
CAREGIVING
Caring for Aging Loved Ones Can Be a Catch-22
Recession Scrambling Health Spending in U.S.
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
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
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
DIABETES
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
DIET, NUTRITION
Fruits, Vegetables, Teas May Cut Smokers' Cancer Risk
Low-Fat Diet Does Little to Alter Cholesterol Levels
DASH Diet Has Extra Benefits for Women's Health
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Controversial Chemical Lingers Longer in the Body
Dementia Underestimated in Developing Countries
Home Renovations by Affluent Families Can Unleash Lead Threat
EYE CARE, VISION
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
Nearly 18 Million Will Have Macular Degeneration by 2050
It's a Whole New Outlook for Cataract Patients
FITNESS
Run for Your Life
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
Almost Two-Thirds of Americans Meet Exercise Guidelines
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Kids With Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart Trouble
Simple Holistic Approach to Fight the Common Cold
When It Comes to Lifting, the Pros Have Your Back
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Years of Heavy Smoking Raises Heart Risks
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
MEN'S HEALTH
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
A Simple 'Thank You' Brings Rewards to All
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
SENIORS
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
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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