Baby Screening

Saving Babies through Screening

Baby Screening
Carter was a New Jersey newborn diagnosed with maple syrup urine disease at 4 days old. That meant his system couldn’t break down certain proteins. Carter was home with his mom when the doctor called. At the hospital, she learned he had been about an hour away from slipping into a coma.

About one in every 750 babies is born with a potentially serious or deadly genetic disorder. Treatment can prevent devastating consequences, but time is of the essence – a child can become extremely ill or die in his first few days of life if fast action is not taken.

By law, all South Carolina babies are screened for 52 different disorders, but many samples were not tested within the federal guideline of three days.

All 45 South Carolina birthing hospitals and the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control set a goal in 2014 to ensure all specimens are sent for laboratory testing within 24 hours after the blood was drawn. 

The partners took swift action to identify and eliminate any obstacles to success inside or outside hospital walls. Transparency was key throughout the process. Each month hospitals received a public report showing the data and progress for every facility in the state.

Recently, a baby born in South Carolina tested positive for a disorder similar to Carter’s. His blood was collected within 40 hours after birth and delivered to the lab the next day, where his diagnosis was confirmed. Specialists were planning his treatment within four days. This quick response was possible because each staff person understood their role, and knew that the timeline was crucial.

As of January 2015, 93 percent of our birthing hospitals have met the goal of sending all specimens to the state lab within 24 hours, compared to the initially reported percentage of 25 percent hospitals.  The cost savings are estimated between $500,000 and $1 million.