2 disorders added to Virginia’s newborn screening program

Two disorders are being added to Virginia’s newborn screening program.

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD) will be included on a list of metabolic and genetic disorders that health care professionals check for following the baby’s birth. This is done 24 to 48 hours after birth by testing dried blood samples taken by picking the baby’s heel.

SMA can affect a baby’s ability to swallow, breathe, sit and walk. X-ALD makes certain fats unable to be broken down in the body, and their buildup affects the nervous system and adrenal glands.

The two disorders were added after their inclusion on the Recommended Uniform Screening Panel, which is a list of disorders the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services recommends for states to screen.

With the addition of SMA and X-ALD, 33 disorders are screened, including cystic fibrosis, critical congenital heart defect, congenital hearing loss, and many conditions that can cause severe sickness, physical or mental disabilities, even death, if not diagnosed early, a news release for Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office said.

“For parents of a baby identified on a newborn screen with one of these disorders, (Virginia Department of Health) newborn screening nurses are able to assist them as they seek appropriate follow-up diagnostic testing and referral to consultants,” Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Colin M. Greene said in a statement.

The Virginia newborn screening program was first mandated in 1966. It’s required by law for all babies born in Virginia, except when parents have a religious objection.

The program is a partnership between the Department of General Services’ Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services and the Virginia Department of Health.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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