State Adds Cystic Fibrosis Test to Newborn Screening
California this month will add a test for cystic fibrosis to the state's newborn screening program, the Contra Costa Times reports.
The goal is to enable physicians to begin treatment immediately and reduce damage to the lungs, digestive tract and other organs.
Karen Hardy, director of pediatric pulmonology at Children's Hospital Oakland, said an early diagnosis allows physicians to begin treating vitamin deficiencies in newborns with the disease.
Out of 540,000 births in California each year, 92 infants are expected to have cystic fibrosis. The new screening test within the first month of its use should identify 85 of those infants.
Fred Lorey, acting chief of the state's genetic disease screening program, said that nearly all infants with cystic fibrosis should be diagnosed within a few weeks of birth. Infants with the disease who are not identified by the test could later be diagnosed because of the presence of a condition called meconium ileus, which is a serious obstruction of the small intestine.
Tests for cystic fibrosis that many other states use detect only the genetic mutations that are most common in white infants, according to the Times.
Lorey said that during the past two years, state officials and cystic fibrosis experts in California have conducted research to identify common mutations in blacks and Hispanics. The result is a more comprehensive screening process than most other states (Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 7/6).