Is the Job Ever Done?
Administration Ignores Mandate to Update NBS
During the 1998 session, the California legislature unanimously
approved a bill which instructed the administration to update the Newborn
Screening (NBS) program.
Included in this instruction was the specific use of Tandem Mass Spectography
which clearly will provide increased accuracy and repeatability of current
testing, and make it relatively easy to add 16 additional disorders of infants
to the testing program.
The mandate included funding for equipment and staff. The Governor signed the
bill, acknowledging the responsibility. The new test equipment was then
purchased and has been delivered to the Department of Health Services.
However, it has come to this writer’s attention that this year’s
three-year budget outline failed to incorporate any funds to implement the
staffing for the mandated improvement of the NBS program.
The current screening program tests for the disorders of Phenylketonuria,
Hypothyroidism, Galactosemia and a number of blood diseases, including Sickle
Cell. This program had been very successful and identifies disorders in many
newborns each year which can then be treated to abate damage to the infant
before it occurs.
The disorders to be added as part of this updated NBS program are all
genetically inherited, and these tests have the potential of identifying many
additional cases of damaged newborns.
Need I say more!
— Peter Leibert, Editor