(MENAFN- The Peninsula) The National Newborn Screening Program (QNSP) has enabled the early diagnosis of more than 1,000 babies born with various diseases and disorders and helped to save their life, since 2003. The national program, which generally tests within 72 hours of a baby's birth, has screened over 300,000 newborns across the country.
The Newborn Screening Program was established in 2003 and it has been one of the most successful preventive public health program implemented in the world, said Dr Tawfeg Ben-Omran, Senior Consultant, Clinical and Metabolic Genetics Division at Hamad Medical Corporation, yesterday. He emphasized that the newborn screening program plays a lifesaving role in detecting and treating serious illnesses that would otherwise go undiagnosed or have delayed diagnosis.
'Screening of newborn babies is important in the early recognition of certain disorders and aims to prevent serious consequences in the future, Dr Ben Omran told The Peninsula.
'The program offers free disease screening for all children born in Qatar and at present it screens for more than 80 disorders. It allows us to detect disorders, before they progress to serious illness. This is significant as many of these newborn babies may initially appear healthy, however, the illnesses can progress very quickly, he added.
Qatar was the first country in the region to establish a National Newborn Screening Program and tests babies for metabolic and endocrine disorders, including rare diseases.
The National Newborn Screening Program is divided into three segments including the Newborn Screening Unit, which works with maternity units and primary health care teams to coordinate testing and follow up of results, the specialized laboratory that conducts the testing, and the teams that provide treatment to affected babies, both short- and long-term.
Dr Ben Omran added that the newborn screening program is going beyond diagnosis and treatment. The routine screening, often called a ‘heel prick' test, involves taking a few drops of blood from the baby's heel.
'Among the 1000 babies diagnosed with disorder have been successfully treated for potentially fatal and disabling conditions, he said.
He was speaking on the sidelines of a conference on ‘New Frontiers in Newborn Screening,' for physicians, nurses and laboratory practitioners. 'The conference has brought in eminent speakers from the US, the UK and Qatar to discuss the history, developments and future of nee born screening programs, said Dr Ben Omran.
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