Plan to launch scheme in all hospitals in city

The Kochi branch of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) will introduce neonatal screening for enzyme and metabolic disorders in newborns soon. Babies, soon after their birth in hospitals in and around the district, will be screened for congenital hypothyroidism, congenital adrenal hyerplasia (CAH) and G6 PD deficiency. Treatment is available for the first two conditions and complications can be reduced in the third disorder which is a condition caused by defective enzyme in the red blood cells.

This programme is available in select government hospitals that have more than 100 deliveries a month. Across the State, 45 government hospitals have these facilities, of which four are in Ernakulam (District General Hospital, Aluva General Hospital, Tripunithura Taluk Hospital and Paravur Taluk Hospital).

The IAP proposes to launch this programme to all hospitals in the city not covered by the government.

The three disorders were chosen based on a study of frequency conducted by the Christian Medical College, Vellore, said Abraham K. Paul, convenor, national screening programme. Congenital hypothyrodism is said to be prevalent in the rate of 6 per 10,000 newborns, CAH has a prevalence rate of 4.5 in 10,000 live births while G6 PD is said to be 5 in 10,000 live births.

Dr. Paul said the aim was to screen infants for conditions that were treatable, which were not clinically evident in the newborn period. Delay in the diagnosis of these conditions would cause irreversible damage to the baby. Early diagnosis and treatment in the neonatal period would prevent disabilities caused by these conditions.

All the three have definitive treatment protocols, said Dr. Paul. Hospital technicians would be trained to take blood samples of newborns for the three tests. The IAP would tie up with a laboratory for the tests for which rates were yet to be fixed.

In the first phase of introducing the screening, the programme would aim at collecting 500 samples. Though the government screens newborns for six other disorders, the IAP will be screening for three, the diseases that have more prevalence. The neonatal metabolic and enzyme screening coupled with the already existing newborn hearing screening programme, would extend help in preventing mortality and disabilities in children, he said. The centralised newborn hearing screening programme that began in 2003 has been one of its kind that brought the IAP’s Kochi branch a lot of laurels.

The programme has so far screened 80,911 babies from 38 hospitals (including two medical colleges in Kottayam and Thrissur and two ESI hospitals) in Ernakulam, Kottayam and Thrissur, and detected 131 hearing impaired babies and provided them with hearing aids.

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