September 2007 Clinical Laboratory News: Most U.S. Babies Now Receive Expanded Panel of Screenings

September 2007: Volume 33, Number 9

Most U.S. Babies Now Receive Expanded Panel of Screenings

Almost 90% of babies born in the U.S. will receive the recommended screenings at birth because they live in states that require newborn testing for at least 21 life-threatening disorders, according to the 2007 March of Dimes Newborn Screening Report Card. The March of Dimes endorses a 2004 report from the American College of Medical Genetics recommending that every baby born in the U.S. be screened for 29 genetic or functional disorders also known as the core conditions.

This recent statistic represents more than double the percentage in 2005, when only 38% of U.S. babies were born in states that required screening for at least 21 of the 29 core conditions (see chart below). According to the 2007 report, this percentage has now increased to 87.5%, or about 3.6 million babies. Elsewhere in the country, 6.1% of babies are born in states that require screening for only 10 to 20 core conditions, and 6.2% of newborns are screened for fewer than 10 conditions.

One of the March of Dimes’ primary goals is to ensure that every newborn baby is screened for the 29 core conditions by making this expanded testing mandatory under state law. Currently, 13 states and the District of Columbia require this expanded screening. In 2007, three states—Montana, Kansas, and West Virginia—enacted expanded screening legislation, with programs scheduled to begin next year. Expanding newborn screening requirements has also attracted the attention of federal legislators. Congress is currently considering a number of newborn screening bills, including “Screening for the Health of Infants and Newborns Act” also known as the SHINE Act (S.1712), which was introduced by Sen. Hilary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in late June. In February, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) introduced the “Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act” (S.634). Both these bills call for national guidelines for reporting newborn screening data, as well as financial assistance for states to expand and improve their newborn screening programs.

Additional information, including a link to the 2007 Newborn Screening Report Card, is available on the March of Dimes Web site.

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