Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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September 19, 2013

Kelly, Schumer team up for newborn testing


Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — “We don’t want to go backwards,” Kelly said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday. “Every child deserves a fair chance at a healthy life right from the very start.”

Schumer said the legislation would expand upon existing screenings to include testing for additional diseases and to make testing universal and accurate in all states. It would also increase education for parents and medical providers about the necessity of these tests and improve follow-up care.

Medical experts believe that early detection of many diseases leads to better treatment and care for newborns, can lessen serious and often fatal effects and potentially save lives, Schumer said.

Schumer said in Western New York there were 43,196 births between 2008-10 and an estimated 2,873 positive screenings. Niagara County had 451 positive screenings in its 6,782 births during the same time period.

“Fortunately, through these screening efforts, we catch thousands of infants each year in New York who have manageable and treatable conditions, but parts of the program are at risk if federal funding for these efforts is shut off,” Schumer said.

Prior to passage of the 2008 legislation, the number and quality of screenings varied widely from state to state. In 2007, only 10 states and the District of Columbia required infants to be screened for all “core conditions” recommended by the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children. Now, 44 states and DC require testing of at least 29 of the 31 treatable core conditions. By the end of 2013, New York will be first state to test for ALD, a nervous system disorder inhibiting transmission of signals amongst nerve cells.

The Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee will hold a Sept. 26 hearing on the bill. Action is expected shortly thereafter, Schumer’s office said.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.

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