ADH: More testing for genetic diseases in newborns coming soon

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KFTA) — Newborns could soon be tested for more genetic diseases, according to regulations approved by the Arkansas State Board of Health.

The Arkansas Department of Health screens newborns typically within 24 hours of birth, for more than 30 genetic diseases.

It will will be adding four more to the list.

That includes testing for spinal muscular atrophy, pompe disease, X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy, and mucopolysaccharidosis type I.

Katie Seely, the Assistant Director of the Public Health Laboratory in Little Rock, says there has been a lot of interest in adding spinal muscular atrophy to its list.

The Public Health Laboratory has already purchased additional equipment, and is in the process of hiring experts to perform these tests.

All blood samples collected from newborns using a blood spot card are sent to Little Rock, so hospitals will not need to change any of its procedures.

“The department of health would inform all the hospitals, but then we would automatically at the laboratory start testing — and those tests will show up on the test reports the doctors receive,” Seely said.

Adding the four tests will increase the cost of the screening from $121 to $131.

The regulations will now head to the Legislative Council Subcommittees for review, followed by a 30-day public comment period.

After that, changes will be filed with the secretary of state.

Once a validation test is complete, the lab will actively start testing for the four additional diseases.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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