Hospital to Test Newborns for 30 Metabolic Disorders

Hospital to Test Newborns for 30 Metabolic Disorders

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Ed Yeates ReportingAs of today, St. Mark's Hospital will become the first medical center in Utah to begin testing all newborns for more than 30 metabolic disorders as a required standard of care. More than 30 states have already mandated these additional tests. But Utah is not among them.

Utah currently requires newborn tests for PKU and three other diseases, but does not mandate additional screenings, even though they can be done from that same single blood stick of the baby's heel taken shortly after birth. But as of today, St. Marks is requiring it.

Little Kali Bullock is only two and a half days old, but as of this morning she was tested for 30 additional metabolic disorders. Having the tests routinely now is comforting to Teisa Bullock since one of her other daughters was born with a condition where the body couldn't digest sugar and a form of starch. The girl was two-years old before she was finally diagnosed.

Teisa Bullock: “After two years of dealing with what we’ve had to deal with with my daughter, it definitely--after we finally found out and what we knew we could do to control it, and what we could do to help her–it definitely is peace of mind. It would have been nice to know at birth for sure.”

Many of these metabolic disorders can lead to stunted growth, mental retardation, infection, heart disease and liver failure. It's believed five to ten percent of sudden infant death syndrome cases might actually be one of these 30 undiagnosed conditions.

Colin Kelly, M.D., Pediatrician, St. Mark's Hospital: “And so just by discovering them early and changing the diet or intervening in other ways makes a big difference.”

As we reported almost three years ago, ARUP labs began a pilot program on the screenings back then, and has now shown the additional tests can be done quickly and efficiently.

The State Health Department is now reviewing its policy and most likely will mandate the additional 30 screenings for all hospitals within the next several months. Pediatricians would like even more tests added to the list.

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