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PIA Press Release
2010/01/07

DOH underscores importance of newborn screening

Tacloban City (January 7) -- Screening of the newborn is an advocacy of the Department of Health in order to avoid metabolic disorders and even death, the Department of Health Region 8 underscored.

Newborn Screening services are available in the Region particularly at the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center, Bethany Hospital, Divine Word Hospital, Remedios Trinidad Romualdez Hospital, Leyte Provincial Hospital, Well-Family Midwife Clinic - Branches in Tacloban, OSPA-Farmers Medical Center in Ormoc, Abuyog District Hospital, Burauen District Hospital, and Calbayog Sanitarium and Hospital in Calbayog.

Screening of newborn babies within 48 hours or at least 24 hours from birth is a must, the Department of Health in Eastern Visayas stressed. The screening will be facilitated thru the use of heal prick method, wherein drops of blood will be taken from the baby's heel, blotched on a special absorbent card, and dried for at least four hours. The procedure may be done by a physician, nurse, midwife or medical technologist.

The specimen is then sent to the Newborn Screening Center, West Visayas State University and Medical Center, Ilo-ilo City for screening for the Visayas Region.

The main purpose for the newborn screening is to determine whether or not a newborn child has any of the five metabolic disorders such as congenital hypothyroidism, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, galactosernea, phenylketonuria and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency.

Congenital hypothyroidism results from lack or absence of thyroid hormone, which is essential to growth of the brain and the body. If the disorder in the body is not detected and hormone placement is not initiated within four weeks, the baby's physical growth will be stunted and may suffer from mental retardation.

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia is an endocrine disorder that causes severe salt loss, dehydration and abnormally high levels of male sex hormones in both boys and girls. If not detected and treated early, a baby may die within 7 to 14 days.

In the case of galactosernea, the body is unable to process galactose, which is the sugar that is present in milk.

On the other hand, phenylketonuria is a metabolic disorder wherein the body cannot properly use one of the building blocks of protein called phenylalanine. Excessive accumulation of this substance in the human body causes brain damage.

The last disorder, the glucose-6-phophate dehydrogenase, is a deficiency which is a condition where the body lacks the enzyme called G6PD, which may cause hemolytic anemia resulting from exposure to certain drugs, foods and chemicals.

These disorders when left undiagnosed could cause a big impact on the development and life of the newborn. Hence, the Department of Health in Region 8 is highly advocating this program of Newborn Screening.

For further information on Newborn Screening, interested parties may call the Newborn Screening Regional Program Coordinator at telephone number 323-6119 or visit her at the Department of Health Eastern Visayas Office at the Government Center. (PIA 8) [top]

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