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New developments to help newborn babies

Issued: 4 Oct 2010

Developments to the screening programme which helps thousands of babies every year are being introduced across NHS Highland from 4 October 2010.

Through the existing newborn blood spot test, health professionals will now be able to detect two inherited conditions – Medium Chain Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenase Deficiency (MCADD) and Sickle Cell Disorder (SCD).

Testing this early in a baby’s life gives the best chance of identifying, investigating and, if appropriate, managing these underlying conditions. This can offer the potential to prevent serious illnesses that can, in some cases, prove fatal.

Sally Amor, Public Health Specialist for NHS Highland said: “We welcome this development for newborn babies born across NHS Highland. We have an excellent uptake of screening from the existing bloodspot screening programme and we would urge all parents to take advantage of these new tests. Although these conditions are rare, it is important that we provide treatment and care at the earliest point in time to ensure the best health for those babies affected.”

Carol Colquhoun, National Co-ordinator of Screening Programmes at NHS National Services Scotland, said: “These latest developments to the screening programme for newborn babies are being made across Scotland to strengthen and extend existing services.

“Most babies in Scotland are born healthy. It’s important that where we can, we are able to identify and detect any conditions which may have an impact on the health and wellbeing of the baby.

“In providing more extensive and accurate testing, we will also ensure that we continue to offer parents the best information and advice available to help them make informed choices about their care and treatment when their baby is born.”

The tests for MCADD and SCD are part of the changes to Scotland’s national pregnancy and newborn screening programmes, which included in December 2009 the introduction of a routine second trimester fetal anomaly scan for all pregnant women.

Minister for Public Health Shona Robison said: “Scotland already has one of the world’s most comprehensive infant screening programmes and this development is a further extension of the benefits the programme offers.

“It is a simple test which can detect diseases and conditions at the earliest opportunity, therefore giving health professionals the best chance of preventing serious illnesses.

“I know the extension to the programme will be welcomed by parents across Scotland.”

© 2010 Highland Public Services Partnership.
Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) within the INTERREG IIIB Northern Periphery Programme