UK newborn screening lagging behind Europe and America

A report released by the charity Genetic Alliance UK states that the current newborn screening process does not screen for enough health conditions.

In the UK, a baby can have a blood spot test, where the heel is pricked and a blood sample taken, during the first week after birth. It is not compulsory, although is recommended as it can identify rare diseases early. This in turn allows treatment to be administered at an early stage reducing the possibility of developing complications and, in some cases, death.

Currently the decision on which tests to provide lies with the respective governments of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, the nine conditions that are covered is far below that of our European and American counterparts with those tests being over 20 and over 50 respectively.

Genetic Alliance UK say there are ways to expand the screening in an affordable manner, but these are not currently being used, and the UK is lagging behind other counties with treatable conditions going undetected.

There are potential problems that experts have highlighted; the most concerning is that of false positives. Experts have warned that the benefits need to be looked at in conjunction with the potential harm.

Prof Anne Mackie, director of screening at Public Health England, said:

Every September the committee makes a call for new conditions to be considered for screening and this year they’ve received a number of proposals to consider new diseases as part of the newborn blood spot screening programme.
The committee will make its recommendations by the autumn.

If a condition is missed at birth that later affects a child’s cognitive or physical function, there may be cause to make a birth injury claim for a delayed diagnosis.

If you are feel you have a valid claim for an event that happened pre, at or post birth, give our specialist birth injury solicitors a call and we can give you free initial advice and discuss your claim.

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