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Moms Take Note: Florida Health Program Encourages Early Infant Screening

By Florida Department of Health, Office of Communications

May 14, 2013

All expectant mothers agree on one thing: keeping their baby healthy during and after pregnancy is a primary focus. While new moms understand the role prenatal vitamins and healthy eating play in their child's health, many may be unaware of the various disorders that can be prevented by a simple screening once the baby arrives. The Florida Department of Health (DOH) encourages all moms to consider how they can give their babies the healthiest life possible.

The Department and its new health initiatives are making strides toward increasing the number of Florida's babies that receive proper screenings for uncommon genetic, metabolic, or enzymatic defects. The Florida Newborn Screening Program is one initiative that aims to prevent impairments by screening newborns for diseases that might not be immediately apparent, but can affect a child's development later on. The program works with affiliated organizations like Newborn Screening Lab, Children's Medical Services, and the greater community to guarantee an increased percentage of infants screened and cured of defects such as Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Syndrome (SCIS), cystic fibrosis (CF), and, hearing loss.

SCIS is an immune deficiency that makes children vulnerable to dangerous infectious diseases including pneumonia and meningitis, during the early months following birth.Early treatment for the disease involves replacing a child's immune system through blood transplants, a process which has high success rate when detected early. The same may also be said of cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that critically affects the lungs, pancreas, liver and intestines. Despite having no official cure, a diagnosed infant can live unaffected by the condition if it is detected and treated early.

According to the summer 2012 issue of Baby Steps, the Florida Newborn Screening Newsletter, nearly 50 percent of babies that require additional screenings do not complete the program, and are therefore unable to receive a proper diagnosis or treatment The Florida Newborn Screening Program encourages mothers to adhere to their “1-3-6” policy, which suggests babies be screened within a month of their birth, diagnosed within three, and enrolled in an early intervention program by month six, should their results require treatment. It is an initiative based on prevention, detection, and high-quality treatment services.

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