Newborns in Flanders to be screened for 19 congenital conditions

The screening of newborn babies in Flanders is being expanded with seven additional congenital conditions, including the muscle disease SMA. Originally, parents could have their newborn child screened for twelve congenital disorders for free. The expansion marks the start of an educational campaign for parents to raise awareness of the importance of early disease detection.

The screening is performed via the Guthrie test, also called the neonatal heel prick, in which a few drops of blood are taken from the heel. With this screening it is possible to detect rare diseases at an early stage and to start treatment in time.

The heel prick is not mandatory, but is requested in over 99 percent of cases. The test will now be expanded in three phases with seven additional diseases:

From March 24, 2022

Hereditary metabolic diseases tyrosinemia type I, tyrosinemia type II and carnitine palmitoyltransferase deficiency type 1. These three diseases are very rare, but can lead to serious health problems.

From July 2022

Spinal muscle atrophy (SMA) is added. This screening test is currently being finalized.

From 2023

Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) is added to the screening. From then on, tests will also be carried out for the hereditary metabolic diseases holocarboxylase synthase deficiency and homocystinuria.

Flemish Minister for Welfare, Public Health and Family Wouter Beke (CD&V) explains: “The diseases that we detect are very rare, but cause a lot of suffering when they develop. In the coming year we can expand the population screening with seven diseases in order to quickly detect a total of 19 congenital disorders. We foresee a budget of 1 million euros per year for this expansion.”



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