Here's something you need to know about neonatal screening
Health Authority’s (DHA) has said that its primary healthcare sector is
educating the public about the vital importance of neonatal screening.
The child health unit of the primary healthcare centre provides
crucial neonatal screening services for all new-born babies in order to detect
certain genetic, endocrine, and metabolic disorders, according to DHA.
It is mandatory for all new-borns to undergo health screenings
after 48 hours of birth. New-borns who are born in DHA’s hospitals and are
discharged earlier than 48 hours are booked with DHA's primary healthcare and
samples for this screening, which is done with a simple heel prick, are
collected at the time of appointment. Samples of new-borns discharged earlier
than 48 hours are collected from the hospital. This guarantees 100 per cent
Dr. Manal Al Taryam, CEO of Primary Healthcare at the DHA, said:
"This screening is absolutely essential. The newborn screening test can
tell you if your baby has any hereditary or hormonal problems. Most of the
diseases which we screen for during the first week of birth are treatable
diseases which means if we diagnose it early on, treatment is very simple and
the child can lead a normal life. But if it goes undiagnosed, children can have
complications such as growth retardation, mental retardation and the child
loses all chances of having a normal life."
Dr. Nahed Monsef, Director of Health Affairs Department at DHA’s
Primary Healthcare Sector, said: "Neonatal screening(NNS) by heel prick
started in DHA in 2003 with screening for congenital hypothyroidism and
phenylketonuria (PKU) . Sickle cell disease screening was added to NNS in 2005
and Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia in 2007. From 2011 tandem mass spectrometry
(MS/MS) which is capable of multi-analyte analysis , has enabled new-born
screening to detect many more disorders.
"A total of 116,864 babies have been screened since 2003.
Parents are informed about abnormal results within seven days of the test and
are directed to hospitals for further investigation and confirmation of
"The number of cases detected include 101 cases of congenital
hypothyroidism, 17 of PKU, 32 of congenital adrenal hyperplasia and 64 cases of
sickle cell disease.
"From 2005 to 2015, more than 2081 sickle cell trait cases
have been identified and parents of these babies have been referred for genetic
counselling in DHA health centres."
Dr. Fatma Sultan Al Olama, Consultant and Head of Child Health
Care Unit at DHA’s Primary Healthcare Sector, said: "All these disorders
can have serious clinical consequences for the young infant. If undiagnosed and
untreated, these disorders can cause irreversible mental retardation (ranging
from mild to severe), physical disability, neurological damage and even
fatality. Early detection (soon after birth) and an accurate diagnosis are very
important for achieving a rapid and favourable outcome." –End-