Tenesha Wallace, MA Manager of Communications and Public Health (GAFP) and Judith Kerr, MPH Child Health Screening Program Manager (Department of Public Health, Maternal and Child Health Section)
Georgia Newborn Screening Panel Updates:
In 1968, Georgia initiated universal newborn blood screening for phenylalanine (PKU). Today the newborn screening panel consists of 3 different components: blood screening for 29 disorders found in blood, screening for hearing loss and screening for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD).
According to the Newborn Screening (NBS) Program, screening for blood disorders are vital in the newborn population. Most of the disorders included in the test panel are relatively rare (incidence = 1:3,000 to 1:300,000). However, early detection and identification as well as timely intervention and treatment can prevent morbidity and mortality. Last year, as a result of blood screening, a total of 164 children in Georgia were identified with a metabolic disorder.
Presumptive positive results are reported to a designated follow-up entity, who then notifies the baby’s primary health care provider of the appropriate course of action (e.g., submission of a repeat specimen, confirmatory testing, or clinic visit).
Authorized providers can access unofficial copies of newborn screening results on-line through the State Electronic Notification Surveillance System (SendSS). To register for SendSS, visit https://sendss.state.ga.us and fill out the online registration form. Official results for newborn screens can be retrieved by authorized medical providers through the eReports web portal located at https://ereports.ga.gov. These web-based systems enable registered providers to access screening test results 24 hours a day/7 days a week. To ensure confidentiality and security, a username and password is required to access each system.
Follow-up of potential hemoglobin disorders is provided by the Augusta University Sickle Cell Center and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center. The Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia, Inc. is responsible for follow-up of abnormal hemoglobin results that suggest carrier, or “trait” status. Follow-up of potential metabolic disorders is provided by the Emory University School of Medicine (https://dph.georgia.gov/newborn-screening-unit).
The NBS Program provides medical foods for individuals diagnosed with an inherited metabolic disorder. Patients can receive this service through the Medical Nutrition Therapy for Prevention Program administered through Emory Genetics. Patients with an inherited metabolic disorder, regardless of income, who have difficulty accessing medical foods, low protein modified foods, and treatment related supplies may complete an application for this service here. For more information, please call (404) 778-8497 or (404) 778-8607.
CCHD screening is carried out in all Georgia birthing hospitals prior to the newborn’s discharge. Those babies with positive tests results are further evaluated for the appropriate coarse of action. Depending on the type of defect identified, some babies will require transfer to a level III or higher NICU for Echocardiogram (ECHO) testing and possibly surgical correction, while other babies may only require monitoring by their primary care providers and close communication with cardiology specialists. One year after compliance to Georgia’s mandate to report CCHD screening results, over 111,000 screening results were reported to the NBS Program. The NBS Program is excited with the results and continues to work with all birthing hospitals to achieve maximum success.
Initial hearing screening is also carried out in all birthing hospitals prior to an infant’s discharge. If an infant refers on the final screen prior to discharge, a repeat screen must be performed by one month of age. If a child requires a repeat screen, there are Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) District Coordinators that are available to assist in making a referrral to a health center or an Audiologist. The enclosed link can be a used to assist you in making a referral. http://sendss.state.ga.us/sendss/!audiologist_locator.search The NBS Program encourages having infants screened early and not taking a “wait and see” approach to determine if a hearing impairment is present. Early intervention can improve a baby’s language and brain development. Preliminary data for 2016 indicates 199 babies were identified with permanent hearing loss and referred for additional services.
Additional Newborn Screening Resources:
For more information:
Newborn Screening Program
Georgia Department of Public Health
2 Peachtree Street, NW
Atlanta, GA 30303
“Newborn Screening (NBS).” Georgia Department of Public Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 June 2017. https://dph.georgia.gov/NBS
“Newborn Screening Unit.” Georgia Department of Public Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 June 2017. https://dph.georgia.gov/newborn-screening-unit