NBS or Newborn screening is a procedure done shortly after birth to find out if the baby has congenital metabolic disorders that may lead to mental retardation and even death if left untreated.
If you are an expectant mother, it is best recommended for your newborn to undergo NBS. It is better for us to make sure that our newborn child is healthy, for we will never know if our baby has a disorder until the onset of signs and symptoms and sometimes ill effects are already irreversible in due time. Our baby may look normal after birth, but with the technology on hand, I think it is best that we took advantage of it.
A baby is screened at least 24 to 48 hours from birth. Another screening is done again after two weeks to get more accurate results. The approach is done using the heel prick method; only a few drops of blood are needed to process test and screening results. Blood samples are screened by NBS laboratory. Results will be available and released after 7 days to three weeks, to be sent back to the hospital where you gave birth. According to DOH (Department of Health) the New Born Screening fee is only Php 550, another Php50 has to be paid for the collection of the sample blood. If ever a baby is positive with the test, a specialist should be consulted for confirmatory testing.
Disorders included in the Newborn Screening Package are:
- Congenital Hypothyroidism (CH) – the absence of thyroid hormone, which is essential to growth of the brain and the body. This is one of the causes of mental retardation.
- Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) – an endocrine disorder that causes severe salt lose, dehydration and abnormally high levels of male sex hormones in both boys and girls. If not properly treated, it may cause death within 7-14 days.
- Galactosemia (GAL) – is the condition in which the body is unable to process galactose, the sugar present in milk. Accumulation of excessive galactose in the body can cause many problems, including liver damage, brain damage and cataracts.
- Phenylketonuria (PKU) – a metabolic disorder in which the body cannot properly use one of the building blocks of protein called phenylalanine. Excessive accumulation of phenylalanine in the body causes brain damage.
- Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency (G6PD Def) – deficiency is a condition where the body lacks the enzyme called G6PD. Babies with this deficiency may have hemolytic anemia resulting from exposure to certain drugs, foods and chemicals.
For more detailed information, you may ask your ob-gyne on your next pre-natal check up.
Image source: “Phenylketonuria testing” by U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt Eric T. Sheler – USAF Photographic Archives (image permalink). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.