WASHINGTON – On January 29, the U.S. Senate passed the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act of 2013 (S.1417) by unanimous consent. Introduced by Senators Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), this bipartisan bill reauthorizes funding for various newborn-screening programs for the next five years. AACC applauds the Senate’s approval of this legislation, which is integral to improving children’s health, and urges the U.S. House of Representatives to pass it as well.
Newborn screening is the practice of testing every newborn for medical conditions that, if left untreated, can cause disabilities, developmental delays, illness, or even death. By catching disorders early, newborn screening allows doctors to treat many disorders successfully.
Federal involvement has played a vital role in ensuring that newborns are tested for these disorders. Thanks to earlier legislation, the number of states conducting newborn screening has increased four-fold, and more than 98 percent of all newborns now undergo screening for 29 treatable conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this has resulted in 12,500 babies receiving life-saving treatments each year.
“In the 50 years since newborn screening started in the U.S., it has become one of the most successful programs in modern laboratory medicine in terms of improving patient lives, and also reducing healthcare costs,” said Janet Kreizman, AACC CEO. “Continued federal funding is necessary to preserve these advances, though, particularly the most recent ones that have expanded state newborn screening programs. This is why the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act is so important.”
AACC supports newborn screening through both the advocacy efforts that led to the reauthorization of this bill and research into age-appropriate biochemical indicators of normal childhood development. AACC’s Pediatric Reference Range Committee is currently performing two pilot studies to establish crucial pediatric reference intervals, which show the distribution of normal values in a diverse, healthy population. Researchers presented initial findings from these studies at AACC’s 2013 Annual Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo last July, and final results from these studies will be presented this July at AACC’s 2014 Annual Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo in Chicago.
Dedicated to achieving better health through laboratory medicine, the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) brings together more than 50,000 clinical laboratory professionals, physicians, research scientists, and business leaders from around the world focused on clinical chemistry, molecular diagnostics, mass spectrometry, translational medicine, lab management, and other areas of breaking laboratory science. Since 1948, AACC has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing programs that advance scientific collaboration, knowledge, expertise, and innovation. For more information, visit www.aacc.org.