WASHINGTON – In a letter to the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, AACC and 19 other major healthcare organizations urged Congress to provide funding so that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can fill a crucial gap in children’s medical testing by developing accurate pediatric reference intervals.
Healthcare providers depend on clinical lab test results to help them diagnose and determine the most effective treatments for children—especially when treating children who are too young to communicate their symptoms. To correctly interpret pediatric lab test results, providers must evaluate results within the context of reference intervals, which are the range of normal test values expected in a healthy child. If a test result falls outside of the reference interval, this alerts the pediatrician that a child might have a condition requiring medical intervention. However, limited access to samples from healthy children has significantly hindered the establishment of accurate pediatric reference intervals. So while reference intervals for adults are generally reliable, there is considerable inconsistency in the ranges provided for young patients.
In order for pediatric patients to receive medical care on par with that of adults, it is imperative that reference intervals be developed that accurately reflect physical development from birth through adolescence to adulthood. To accomplish this, AACC requests that Congress provide the CDC Environmental Health Laboratory with an additional $10 million in FY 2020 to initiate and coordinate this vital work. The CDC Environmental Health Laboratory already has experience developing reference ranges for chronic disease biomarkers in adults, and with additional funding it could use its expertise to generate accurate pediatric reference intervals as well. Furthermore, this funding will enable CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to obtain the samples from healthy children that the Environmental Health Laboratory will need for this initiative, and that other clinical labs and diagnostic manufacturers also need for their own crucial pediatric reference interval studies.
“Accurate reference intervals are key to ensuring that our nation’s children receive quality medical care,” said AACC CEO Janet B. Kreizman. “While there are currently large gaps in the reference intervals used for children, the good news is that CDC has the expertise and infrastructure to solve this problem. AACC strongly recommends that Congress fund CDC efforts to develop essential reference intervals and address this critical need in children’s healthcare.”
Dedicated to achieving better health through laboratory medicine, 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 progressing 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.