Testing Program to Help Identify Problems in Newborns

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Tiffany Johnson was glad to hear babies born in Florida will now be tested for 34 different disorders at birth.

When Tiffany’s daughter was born, the state only tested for seven disorders, but this expanded screening program will test for more than two dozen additional disorders that are rare, but potentially deadly.

Tiffany Johnson says, "I think that it’s a wonderful idea, giving you a chance to catch whatever might go wrong with an infant before you get to bring them home and address any issues head-on."

The disorders the state will now screen for all have names most people wouldn’t recognize. Some are inherited conditions known as organic acid disorders, which affect a baby’s ability to process protein and fatty acids.

The state is providing the expanded genetic testing free to parents. The goal is early detection so babies can get into treatment much sooner.

The screening program only takes a single heel stick. Advances in technology now allow medical experts to catch these additional genetic, metabolic and blood disorders in the lab.

Florida health secretary Rony Francois says the tests will save lives.

Rony says, "The beauty of the screening is it’s screening for diseases that have a cure, and so the key here is the early detection and timely diagnosis of these problems."

The state says records will only be kept for the patients’ information to address parents concerns about privacy.

The expanded newborn screening program begins January 9. Later this year, the state will also begin screening newborns for cystic fibrosis.