Newborn screening program comes home to Nevada

Aug 11, 2014

Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Every newborn in Nevada is screened for rare disorders like hypothyroidism and cystic fibrosis. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports that those blood tests are now actually being done in Nevada, instead of being sent out-of-state.

Conducting lab work on babies through the Nevada Newborn Screening Program will keep about $2.5 million in the state for funding the operation. In the past, that money has been going to a lab in Oregon.

Dr. Trudy Larson is director of the new program at the University of Nevada, Reno. She says the 46 disorders babies are tested for at birth are rare, but they do pop up and can be treated early if detected early.

"You know, we hope it doesn't, but one in 1,000 births have some sort of abnormal finding."

Other than doing blood work, Larson says there's no way to identify these conditions, many of which can be life-threatening or lead to a long-term disability.

"These things happen without symptoms, so the babies are born looking normal. Without the ability to screen early on the infants, then, can be permanently affected."

Newborn screenings include a test within 48 hours of birth and another after two weeks. Last year, more than 35,000 babies were born in Nevada.