Save Your Baby from Mental Retardation; DOC JIMMY SAYS

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Byline: Dr. Jaime T. Galvez tan

If you are reading this column now and you or any of your friends and relatives are planning to have a baby soon, then read on the following information which is valuable to save infants from mental retardation and death.

Newborn screening is the latest gift of life for Filipino children. It can save thousands of Filipino infants born every year from five diseases that cause mental retardation and early death. Early detection of these five disorders has to be done on the third day of life or at the earliest, 24 hours after birth.

The Institute of Human Genetics (IHG) is part of the National Institutes of Health Philippines (NIH-P) which I currently head. The IHG has pioneered since 1996 in the research, training and services for newborn screening.

Newborn screening test procedures are very simple. A few drops of blood are taken from the babys heel. These blood drops are blotted on a special absorbent paper. These samples are then sent, via express mail, by the hospital or lying-in clinic where your baby is born or by the midwife or trained hilot or barangay health worker, if the baby is born at home, to the Institute of Human Genetics (IHG).

Test results are available within four to seven days after the IHG receives the samples sent by hospitals, clinics and midwives. Results are released to your attending physician or midwife. A negative screen means that your baby is normal and not suffering from any of the five disorders that cause mental retardation.

In case of a positive screen, your physician or midwife or barangay health worker will be informed immediately so that your baby can be recalled for further tests to confirm the diagnosis.

What are these five metabolic disorders that can be detected by newborn screening and prevented from happening by appropriate treatment?

Congenital Hypothyroidism: This results from lack or absence of thyroid hormones which are essential to growth of the brain and body. If the disorder is not detected and hormone treatment is not initiated promptly, the babys physical growth is stunted and the baby may suffer from mental retardation. …