Association of Public Health Laboratories Applauds Introduction of Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act

Association of Public Health Laboratories Applauds Introduction of Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) commends Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) for their introduction of legislation to provide increased parent and health care provider education, improve follow-up care and enable states to improve their newborn screening programs. The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act of 2007 represents a significant commitment to improving the health of children by assuring that testing will continue to occur with the greatest level of accuracy and that those children with life threatening and debilitating disorders will receive prompt and effective treatment.

“The nation’s public health laboratories have been at the vanguard of newborn screening since its inception in 1965,” said Katherine Kelley, DrPH, director of Connecticut’s public health laboratory. “I’m thrilled that Senator Dodd has again introduced legislation that will allow public
health laboratories to continue to provide the highly-accurate testing results — results that enable health care providers to immediately begin treatments that save and improve the lives of children — as technological advances broaden the number of disorders that can be detected. I urge all members of the Senate to cosponsor Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act of 2007.”

Public health laboratories conduct newborn screening tests on 97 percent of the babies born in the US — tests that have long been recognized as an essential and effective preventive public health service that identifies thousands of babies each year who are born with a genetic or metabolic disorder. Laboratories and parents must be confident that tests results are accurate and that disorders are not missed.

“This important piece of legislation is needed to ensure that all babies born in the US have an equal chance for a healthy start to life,” said William Becker, DO, MPH, chair of the APHL Newborn Screening and Genetics in Public Health Committee. “It is especially significant that the new bill directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop a national contingency plan for newborn screening so we can build upon the experiences learned after Hurricane Katrina and that it continues to provide critical monies for assuring the quality of all newborn screening laboratory testing.”

The funding provided in the bill for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will enable CDC to utilize state-of-the-art science to address pressing newborn screening issues that are of public health concern and:

— Develop new screening methods for specific disorders, including asthma, autism, diabetes, severe combined immune deficiency (SCID) and metabolic storage diseases such as mucopolysaccharidoses and adrenoleukodystrophy

— Adapt innovative technologies for screening and quality assurance

— Transfer appropriate screening technologies to state public health laboratories

— Assist states in conducting pilot studies related to new screening tests for newborns that would identify babies with disorders that are not part of the current panel of tests

— Develop systems for new screening tests to monitor the quality of testing methods in all laboratories

— Upgrade online data-reporting site to accommodate expanding the number of newborn screening tests that state laboratories conduct

— Develop DNA methods and controls for genetic measurements that will be used in the future to detect disorders CDC’s Environmental Health Laboratory is the only comprehensive source
in the world for ensuring the accuracy of newborn screening tests, and the nation’s public health laboratories depend on it for the success of their newborn screening operations.

The Association of Public Health Laboratories works with members to strengthen laboratories serving the public’s health. By promoting effective programs and public policy, APHL strives to provide public health laboratories with the resources to protect the health of US residents and
to prevent and control disease globally.

Contact: Jody DeVoll, Director of Communications and Membership, 240.485.2753,
jody.devoll@aphl.org

SOURCE Association of Public Health Laboratories

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