Need for neonatal screening stressed

The Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA) has said that its primary healthcare sector is educating the public about the vital importance of neonatal screening.

The child health unit of the primary healthcare centre provides crucial neonatal screening services for all new-born babies in order to detect certain genetic, endocrine, and metabolic disorders, according to DHA.

It is mandatory for all new-borns to undergo health screenings after 48 hours of birth.  New-borns who are born in DHA’s hospitals and are discharged earlier than 48 hours are booked with DHA's primary healthcare and samples for this screening, which is done with a simple heel prick, are collected at the time of appointment. Samples of new-borns discharged earlier than 48 hours are collected from the hospital. This guarantees 100 per cent compliance.

Dr. Manal Al Taryam, CEO of Primary Healthcare at the DHA, said: "This screening is absolutely essential. The newborn screening test can tell you if your baby has any hereditary or hormonal problems.

“Most of the diseases which we screen for during the first week of birth are treatable diseases which means if we diagnose it early on, treatment is very simple and the child can lead a normal life. But if it goes undiagnosed, children can have complications such as growth retardation, mental retardation and the child loses all chances of having a normal life."

Dr. Nahed Monsef, Director of Health Affairs Department at DHA’s Primary Healthcare Sector, said: "Neonatal screening(NNS) by heel prick started in DHA in 2003 with screening for congenital hypothyroidism and phenylketonuria (PKU).

Sickle cell disease screening was added to NNS in 2005 and Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia in 2007. From 2011 tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) which is capable of multi-analyte analysis , has enabled new-born screening to detect many more disorders.

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