Newborn Screening Bill Approved

The state Senate on Thursday approved legislation that would expand Pennsylvania’s Newborn Screening and Follow-up Program to include 29 “core” genetic conditions that are serious but treatable if caught early, according to Sen. Jane Orie (R-Allegheny). Orie, who sponsored a Senate version of House Bill 883, said the measure is crucial to saving lives and helping children who are born with life-threatening genetic conditions and their families.

“Each and every baby born in our state deserves the opportunity for a healthy start,” Orie said. “Newborn screening is a vital public health tool that provides early identification and treatment for infants affected by certain metabolic, hormonal, genetic or functional disorders. It’s time for Pennsylvania to act on behalf of our smallest and youngest citizens and their families by supporting this bill.”

Last month, the senator joined former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly at a press conference to urge members of the legislature to approve this important legislation. Kelly and his wife Jill founded Hunter’s Hope Foundation, in honor of his son, to increase awareness about newborn diseases and to support funding for research on treatments and cures.

Thanks in part to that foundation, newborn screening legislation was signed into law by President Bush on April 24, 2007. The bill created national standards by expanding screenings of newborn babies and authorizing a grant program to expand funding to state and local health agencies.

“Currently, Pennsylvania only provides for services, referrals, and confirmatory testing for only a fraction of the metabolic conditions as well as hearing,” Orie said. “Expanding the follow-up services will help to save lives and reduce long-term medical costs.”

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