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Newborn Screening

Lakycia Allen's baby girl has an uncommon metabolic disorder, but Allen considers her fortunate. Had she been born just six months before, baby Keralyn's potentially fatal illness may have gone overlooked pending it was too late.

Her disorder - very long-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency, which prevents the body since converting definite fats into energy -- is one of 20 the state of Texas began showing newborns for in December. Before that, the state screened infants for just seven genetic or congenital conditions.

For the reason that the lately screened disorders are all comparatively rare, few babies have been diagnosed thus far. However, for parents of infants establish to have the disorders, examination for those illnesses is not only worthwhile; it possibly will be life saving.

Keralyn, who was born in April, appeared to be so healthy the first few months that her mother said she did not take her disorder critically. She did, on the other hand, put together Keralyn ate every few hours, which helps control her blood sugar. nevertheless when the baby caught a cold and stopped up eating, her blood sugar level dropped, she went limp, and Allen had to rush her to the hospital.

"Everything that they told me was going to happen happened. But I was already pre-warned," Allen said. "I'm glad they caught it early."

Prior to this year, babies like Keralyn were not tested in anticipation of symptoms surfaced; sense treatment repeatedly came too late to prevent brain or organ damage -- or death. Since Keralyn had been diagnosed, she was treated quickly, and recovered.

"We are now diagnosing children who would have presented clinically with these disorders," said Dr. Hope Northrup, professor of pediatrics and director of the Division of Medical Genetics at the University Of Texas Medical School at Houston. "By screening them and finding those before them get sick, we can prevent them from having neurological damage."

Since screening began, only four babies statewide have been diagnosed with Keralyn's disorder, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

For all 20 of the newly screened disorders, 49 infants were diagnosed between December, when the testing began, and early September, the department reported.

During that same period, more than four times as many infants - 236 - were diagnosed with one of the more common illnesses for which newborns were screened before December, the department said. Of those seven conditions, the most common was sickle-cell anemia, a blood disease, with 71 cases found between December and early September.

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