Increased Newborn Screening in Colorado May Cut Infant Mortality
For most parents, the day on which their child was born ranks as one of the happiest moments of their lives. Some parents never experience the elation of a healthy baby, however, with medical complications arising immediately during or right after labor. These parents frequently experience an emotional roller coaster and feel that their newborns’ lives are at the mercy of the hospital and medical staff attending to them. In such instances, parents must pray that medical expertise and cutting-edge technology can help their children survive.
The odds for newborns in Colorado just improved with the expansion of critical screening services. Specifically, testing for dangerous genetic disorders has recently been made available on weekends. On a practical level, this means that young patients and their parents will not have to wait for results regarding potentially deadly conditions, of which there are dozens.
Genetic disorders must be detected immediately
For the parents of a Colorado Springs newborn, this move came several years too late. Their son was born with a genetic disorder called MCAD deficiency that prevents the body from properly breaking down food and ultimately causes life-threateningly low blood-sugar levels. While the baby was born on a Friday, his blood samples were not tested until the following week due to the lab’s closure on the weekend. Without knowledge of his condition, lifesaving feeding protocols and treatments were not administered and the baby passed away a mere four days after his birth.
Lack of screening can be deadly
Understandably, the newborn’s parents hold the lab and hospital responsible for their child’s passing. According to the hospital, it did not send a sample to the lab since there was no one there to receive it. Shockingly, Colorado was one of 27 states whose labs did not process newborn samples on the weekend. While expanded hours will cost several hundred thousand dollars per year, for parents of newborns, this investment will be worth every penny spent.