Cape Gazette
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Delaware celebrates newborn screening program 50th anniversary

Exhibits April 16-19 and 22-26 highlight lifesaving procedures
Apr 05, 2013

The Delaware Division of Public Health is celebrating 50 years of its newborn screening program by hosting an exhibit which highlights how screenings save lives. The Association of Public Health Laboratories exhibit reveals the scientific discoveries that enable mass, rapid and accurate testing of newborns to detect conditions that can lead to death or a lifetime of intellectual or physical disability.

Delaware Health and Social Services’ Division of Public Health arranged for the display to be available for public viewing between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on these dates:  April 16-19, on the first floor of Legislative Hall, 411 Legislative Ave., Dover; and April 22-26 at the Delaware Public Health Laboratory at 30 Sunnyside Road in Smyrna.

Parking for Legislative Hall is available in the Delaware Public Archives and Tatnall Building lots. Enter Legislative Hall using the west entrance - the side facing Legislative Mall. Adults over 18 must show a government-issued picture identification card at the security desk, which provides visitors’ passes.

There are no restrictions on bags, water or cameras, although cellphones should be turned off. Visitors seeking Capitol tours should call the Capitol Tour Information Desk at 302-739-9194 and plan to arrive between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

At the Delaware Public Health Laboratory, parking is available in the lab’s parking lot. Visitors must sign the log book. Adults must show photo identification.

The Delaware Newborn Screening Program screens for 40 genetic and metabolic disorders. Dried blood spot samples obtained from Delaware newborns are analyzed at the Delaware Public Health Laboratory for such disorders as congenital hypothyroidism, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, galactosemia, sickle cell disease, and amino acid disorders, e.g. phenylketonuria [PKU], and maple syrup urine disease.

If not identified and treated soon after birth, these disorders can result in developmental delay, substantial cognitive disability, serious medical problems, or even death. Through early detection and appropriate intervention, children with these disorders can live longer, healthier lives.

“The Delaware Newborn Screening Program was among the first statewide programs in the nation, beginning in 1962,” said Kate Tullis, PhD, DPH’s Newborn Screening Program administrator. “Currently, the program screens more than 11,500 babies a year.”

“Newborn screening is vital because it saves lives that are just beginning,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl T. Rattay. “Newborn screening and our rapid laboratory work also saves millions of dollars in treatment, home and institutional costs.” Between $2 and $4 are saved for every $1 spent on newborn screening. The savings are primarily in reduced medical costs and in the reduced requirement for special education for children who otherwise would have been disabled.

For more information about APHL’s newborn screening campaign, visit www.50yearssavingbabies.org. For information about newborn screening in Delaware, go to www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph.

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