Newborn Screening

Monday, October 31, 2011

Recently I attended a 2-day seminar last October 27-28, 2011 at the Grand Men Seng Hotel. This was my first training since I worked at the RHU. Along with fellow doctors, nurses, midwives and medical technologists, I was able to experience it first-hand. Facilitators from the Newborn Screening Center were also there to teach us different techniques and guide us on how to properly do it. Except for the very congested OB ward, everything was great.

Our facilitator, Ms. Clarose Mascardo

Newborn screening has been started since 2004 in the Philippines. But other countries have done this for quite a few years already. I only knew about it when I had my eldest daughter last 2008. That's when I first heard about it. What's so good about it you ask? Basically it tests for the five (5) most common cause of mental retardation among infants. It tests for Congenital Hypothyroidism, Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, Phenylketonuria, Galactosemia and Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency. These illnesses when left unattended would lead to, as I have said, mental retardation and eventually death.

This is why Newborn Screening has been passed into Law and which is now known as the RA 9288.

Why the need for training personnel to do such a simple thing? Although it may look simple, it takes a great deal of practice to collect samples of blood. And it takes a special skill to do a simple task like the newborn screening.

During the presentations of action plans, a few maternity clinic owners have planned to include it in their delivery package. That way most of the delivered infants, if not all, would be screened. As for us in the Rural Healh Units, it would be an entirely different story. We would have to come up with a better way of encouraging parents to avail of the NBS.

Collection Area at the Newborn Screening Center at SPMC

Each test cost only Php600. An increase of Php50 would only be allowed in very far flung areas as suggeted by DOH. They have a copy of places that can add the P50. It has been observed that some maternity clinics and even hospitals have been posting high cost of this test. To ensure proper pricing and monitor the number of cases, DOH personnel have been roaming around the nation checking if everything is being implemented as ordered by DOH.

A sample of Newborn Screening Kit

The training ended well and everyone was excited to get their certificates. I know I was:)