National Newborn Screening Week

Manila Bulletin, October 8, 2009 | Go to article overview
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National Newborn Screening Week


Pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 540, the first week of October is celebrated as National Newborn Screening Week to draw broader public attention to the crucial role of early detection of inherited diseases in preventing permanent damage to the affected child.The symptoms of inherited diseases often become apparent only at a later age when the effects have become irreparable.Newborn Screening (NBS) is a procedure given within 72 hours after the baby is born to test the infant for inherited congenital metabolic disorders which may affect the normal processes of the body. Using the heel prick method, three drops of blood are taken, ideally during the 48th to 72nd hour of life. A positive screen will require the newborn to be brought back to her pediatrician for further testing. Diagnosed children can continue to live normal and healthy lives as long as they are given treatment on time and there is consistent follow-up with a specialist.Around 33,000 children out of the 2 million Filipino babies born yearly are at risk from disorders that Newborn Screening can address, congress approved Republic Act (RA) No. 9288: An Act Promulgating a Comprehensive Policy and a National System for Ensuring Newborn Screening. The national NBS tests initially covered five disorders: Congenital hypothyroidism (the lack or absence of thyroid hormone that is necessary for brain and body growth), congenital adrenal hyperplasia (an endocrine disorder that causes severe salt loss, dehydration, and abnormally high levels of male sex hormones), galactosemia (a condition in which babies are unable to process galactose, which is the sugar present in milk, resulting in damage to the brain and liver), phenylketonuria (the inability to properly utilize the enzyme phenylalanine, which can lead to brain damage), and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (a condition where the body lacks the enzyme G6PD, which may cause hemolytic anemia from exposure to oxidative substances present in certain drugs, foods, and chemicals).

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