State Health Officials Launch Pilot Program Expanding Genetic Screening for Newborns
State health officials yesterday launched a pilot program that expands the number of genetic diseases for which newborns will be screened, the Fresno Bee reports. Under the new program, federal and state grants will cover the $3.9 million cost to test for up to 30 genetic diseases, if parents elect to have them done. California had previously screened newborns only for thyroid disorders, sickle cell anemia, phenylketonuria and galactosemia (Anderson, Fresno Bee, 1/8). The expanded screening will include tests for diseases such as fatty acid metabolism disorder, maple syrup urine disease and citrullinemia. Dr. George Cunningham, director of the Department of Health Services' genetic disease branch, said that as many as 400,000 infants could be tested in the program's first year (Feder, San Jose Mercury News, 1/8). Health officials say that the new screenings will help identify the approximately one in 5,000 children born with a genetic disorder, allowing the conditions to be treated earlier. Officials will publish a report in 12 to 18 months to evaluate the program (California Healthline, 12/10/01).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.