SAN FERNANDO CITY, Nov. 12 (PIA) -- Health experts in Region 1 encourage parents to avail of expanded newborn screening (NBS) for their babies.
Dr. Ivy Rose Acosta, newborn screening medical specialist in the Ilocos Region, said the program has expanded the screening of disorders from six to 28.
"In 2004, the program was called Comprehensive Newborn Screening. Since 2014, it has become expanded newborn screening program," Acosta said during the Kapihan sa Ilocos of the Philippine Information Agency Region 1.
She added that starting this year, it became mandatory for all babies to undergo expanded newborn screening.
"Mandatory na lahat ng sinisilang na sanggol ay dumadaan sa proseso ng newborn screening," the medical specialist from the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center (ITRMC) said.
Formerly, the newborn screening program included screening of six disorders namely: congenital hypothyroidism (CH), congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), phenylketonuria (PKU), glucose-6- phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, galactosemia (GAL) and maple syrup urine disease (MSUD).
The expanded screening, on one hand, now includes 22 more disorders such as hemoglobinopathies and additional metabolic disorders.
In the region, Acosta said the top three disorders with the highest incidences are G6PD, CH, and alpha thalassemia.
"The screening is intended to detect early infants who are affected by certain genetic, metabolic, or infectious conditions that may lead to mental retardation or death if left untreated," she said.
Cyrus Jed Ramos, NBS program manager from the Department of Health (DOH) Region 1, said there are 312 newborn screening facilities in the region.
"The expanded newborn screening costs P1,750 which is already included in the newborn care package for Philhealth members," he said.
Claiming of results
Dr. Acosta said results of the expanded newborn screening can be claimed from the accredited health facility where the baby was born.
She informed that normal results are available usually within a month from the time samples are received, but positive results are relayed to the parents immediately by the health facility.
"Please make sure that the phone number you will provide to the health facility is correct," Acosta told parents.
Further, if the child yielded a positive result, he or she will be referred to a specialist for confirmatory testing.
In Region 1, parents whose child has positive screening results can visit the Newborn Screening Continuity Clinic located at the ITRMC.
Acosta informed that the Continuity Clinic provides long-term follow-up management of babies confirmed with the said disorders.
"Hindi lahat ng magulang ay may kakayanang ipakonsulta ang kanilang anak sa espesiyalista kaya kami na po ang magre-refer sa kanila. Referral is free," said Acosta.
Region 1 Expanded Newborn Screening Coverage
Nicole Marie Bugarin, NBS project development officer of DOH Region 1, said there is a relatively high Expanded Newborn Screening Coverage in the region.
"As of third quarter this year, it is at 93 percent based on 0 to 6 months age group," Bugarin said.
She added that the percentage is considered high but there is still seven percent of infants that do not undergo newborn screening.
"We advise the expecting parents to choose a birthing place which is a newborn screening facility," she urged. (JCR/JNPD, PIA La Union