VICTORIA – Newborns throughout British Columbia are being screened for three additional metabolic and genetic conditions, resulting in early identification and treatment, and leading to improved health outcomes.
Newborn Screening BC (NSBC), a service of Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), is adding three tests to their current panel: severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and biotinidase deficiency.
“The importance of a robust screening program is paramount to ensuring the future health of newborns, and NSBC program leaders and their partners continue their commitment to refining and improving the program,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, in a news release. “With the addition of these three screening tests, our provincial screening program aligns with standards of care across Canada.”
All babies born after Sept. 30, 2022, in B.C. and Yukon, are screened for 27 treatable conditions shortly after birth and on the same blood-spot card. There are no additional steps for families or health-care providers.
For newborns, detecting certain disorders early means less invasive investigation and treatment, along with improved outcomes. More specifically, early detection and treatment of the disorders in the additional screening – SCID, SMA and biotinidase deficiency – has been shown to greatly reduce mortality and improve the quality of life of newborns affected by these disorders. As well, early diagnoses result in reduced costs for assessment, testing and future health care.
“This key advancement in newborn screening services is part of our ongoing efforts to work in partnership with hospitals, care providers, communities and parents to improve the health outcomes of newborns provincewide,” said Ellen Giesbrecht, provincial medical director, Perinatal Services BC.
Newborn Screening BC, a service of the PHSA, is a collaboration between BC Children’s Hospital, BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre, Provincial Laboratory Medicine Services and Perinatal Services BC, which are all PHSA programs.
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