Health Hub: Newborn screening launched

The earlier a problem is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat it — this is what every doctor will tell you.

Though when it comes to checking babies just as they’re born, not much is being done at present, says G.S.K. Velu, managing director, Trivitron Healthcare.

“There are a number of inborn errors of metabolism that babies can be born with, and that can be completely cured if diagnosed in a week and treated. The problem is, up until now, there has been very little awareness of these tests, and they are very expensive,” he said.

To counter one of these problems, Trivitron has launched a newborn screening programme with a platform that tests for inborn errors of metabolism. Babies can get tested for seven commonly-occurring errors.

The screening, which can be performed by any hospital, involves a tiny prick to the baby’s heel, and collection of blood on a piece of filter paper in a kit provided by Trivitron. The sample is then sent to HiTech Diagnostic Centre, the lab Trivitron is collaborating with, where it is tested and a report is given to the family.

“Some common disorders such as congenital hyperthyroidism, congenital adrenal hyperplasia and glucose 6 phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency are tested for, and these can be cured with diet restrictions and medication,” said Dr. Velu. If left untreated, they can lead to problems with the baby’s development, he said.

Sp. Ganesan, medical director of HiTech, said that world over, only 30 per cent of babies, mostly in the developed world, are screened for these errors. “Our idea is to try and make this screening universal,” he said.

Each test will cost Rs. 250, and the company is also planning to tie up with hospitals to ensure widespread awareness.

Every year, there are 1.3 million births in Tamil Nadu. Of these, it is estimated that between 1,800 and 2,000 babies are born with a disorder.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 4:51:02 AM |

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