Expanded Newborn Screening: Information and Resources for the Family Physician

Monday, July 17, 2017

American Family Physician, by DG Weissmiller


Each year, 4 to 5 million newborns receive state-mandated screening. Although the Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children has identified 34 core conditions that should be incorporated into screening programs, each state manages, funds, and maintains its own program. State programs encompass screening, as well as the diagnosis and coordination of care for newborns with positive findings. Testing for core disorders is fairly standardized, but more extensive screening varies widely by state, and the rigorous evaluation of new screening panels is ongoing. The core panel includes testing for three main categories of disorders: metabolic disorders (e.g., amino acid and urea cycle, fatty acid oxidation, and organic acid disorders); hemoglobinopathies; and a group of assorted conditions, including congenital hearing loss. Family physicians must be familiar with the expanded newborn screening tests to effectively communicate results to parents and formulate interventions. They must also recognize signs of metabolic disorders that may not be detected by screening tests or that may not be a part of standard newborn screening in their state. For infants with positive screening results leading to diagnosis, long-term follow-up involves ongoing parental education, regular medical examinations, management at a metabolic treatment center, and developmental and neuropsychological testing to detect associated disorders in time for early intervention.

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