The first newborn screening test was developed in 1963 by Dr. Robert Guthrie to test for phenylketonuria, commonly known as PKU. Since then, scientists have developed more tests to screen newborns for a variety of severe conditions. This year, the nation celebrates 50 Years of Newborn Screening. The State of Arizona currently screens for 29 disorders, including hearing loss.
The Office of Newborn Screening launched a new webpage at the beginning of the year dedicated to celebrating this important milestone, as well as raising awareness of newborn screening by sharing information and family stories. Each month, a different disorder or aspect of newborn screening has been featured on the page. You can learn about Sean, who was born with Glutaric Acidemia Type 1 (a metabolic disorder which can cause brain defects if left untreated), or 9-year-old Kaidan with hearing loss due to Waardenberg Syndrome. The page also has great resources about many of the diseases we screen for in Arizona, including Cystic Fibrosis and Congenital Hypothyroidism.
Adding to the celebration, September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month, and the Office of Newborn Screening has teamed up with Baby’s First Test to participate in their “Be Bold, Wear Gold” campaign by wearing gold pins. By sharing newborn screening information through ADHS’ Twitter, including participating in and retweeting important messages from the national chat with Dr. Richard Besser about newborn screening, the Office of Newborn Screening continues to push their message and share the importance of screening for all babies.
It’s pretty amazing on how many newborns are saved everyday because of screenings and the technology available to doctors. 50 years has come along way.