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Nearly two-thirds of babies receive most of the recommended newborn screening tests

White Plains, N.Y., JULY 11, 2006 -- Nearly two-thirds of all babies born in the United States this year will be screened for more than 20 life-threatening disorders at nearly twice the rate as in 2005, according to the latest March of Dimes Newborn Screening Report Card.

However, disparities in state newborn screening programs mean some babies will die or develop brain damage or other severe complications from these disorders because they are not identified in time for effective treatment, the March of Dimes says.

The March of Dimes and the American Academy of Pediatrics have endorsed the recommendation of the American College of Medical Genetics that calls for every baby born in the United States to be screened for 29 disorders, including certain metabolic conditions and hearing deficiency. If diagnosed early, all of these conditions can be successfully managed or treated to prevent severe consequences.

"All babies across America should receive the benefits of being screened for all of these 29 core conditions. Whether a baby is screened and gets the immediate treatment necessary to lead a healthy life should not depend on which state they are born in," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes.

Dr. Howse noted that the U.S. lacks consistent national guidelines for newborn screening. Each state decides how many and which screening tests are required for every baby. Only 5 states Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia and the District of Columbia have comprehensive newborn screening programs requiring all newborns be screened for all 29 disorders. That means only 9 percent of all babies are screened for all of the conditions. Last year, only Mississippi provided screening for the uniform panel.

But, Dr. Howse pointed out, more than a million of the 4 million babies born this year will not be screened for all of these treatable disorders.

Last year, only 23 states, covering on
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Contact: Elizabeth Lynch
elynch@marchofdimes.com
914-997-4286
March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation
10-Jul-2006


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