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More newborn screening options in Saskatchewan

Four more medical conditions are being added to the screening program coverage administered to newborn babies by the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA).

Health Minister Paul Merriman says the expanded screening for childhood conditions that have viable medical treatments will allow for greater detection of these illnesses than previously.

The Universal Newborn Screening Program will expand to include:

  • Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) – a rare neuromuscular disorder caused by a genetic defect that can lead to impaired mobility, swallowing and breathing, and may result in early death.
  • Hemoglobinopathies (including Sickle Cell disease) – inherited blood disorders that affect red blood cells and can cause infections, including life-threatening pneumococcal infections in infants with Sickle Cell disease.
  • A marker for hearing loss (Congenital Cytomegalovirus (cCMV)) which is relatively frequent and is the most common cause of acquired congenital hearing loss.
  • Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) – caused by genetic defects, characterized by the lack of a functioning immune system.

This will compliment the list of tests which currently covers some 35 conditions in newborns including six tests for Amino Acid Disorders, 12 tests for Organic Acid Disorders, eight tests for Fatty Acid Oxidation Disorders and five other conditions that include Cystic fibrosis.

Every Saskatchewan Health Authority operated facility will administer these tests to newborns.

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More information can be found on the government website.

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