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- The ARC - California Edition -

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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


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