HARRISBURG – A new law signed this month by Gov. Edward G. Rendell will help to improve the health of newborns in Pennsylvania, according to the state Health Department.
By amending the Newborn Child Testing Act of 1965, the new law enables the Department of Health to continue to provide for screening and follow-up services for six mandated genetic and metabolic conditions for babies born in Pennsylvania and adds follow-up services for 22 more genetic and metabolic conditions.
“This law helps further ensure that newborns receive necessary follow up services so they can lead happy, healthy lives,” Secretary of Health Dr. Calvin B. Johnson said. “Early intervention and treatment is vital to a baby’s health and provides peace of mind for parents.”
Newborn metabolic and genetic screening has a profound impact on the health of approximately 150,000 babies delivered in Pennsylvania each year.
The Department of Healthrefers newborns that screen positive for metabolic and genetic disorders to specialized treatment centers for confirmatory testing, diagnosis, treatment, and parental education.
Although the 28 metabolic and genetic disorders are uncommon, their presence may lead to mental retardation and even death if not promptly diagnosed and treated.
Babies already receive screening for hearing loss at birth as provided by The Infant Hearing Education Assessment Reporting and Referral (IHEARR) Act of 2001. With the additional genetic and metabolic conditions now required for follow-up along with the hearing screening services for newborns, Pennsylvania now joins many other states that screen for at least 29 conditions at birth.
For more information on newborn screening, visit the Department of Health here or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH.