20 babies found to have congenital, metabolic disorders monthly

BAGUIO CITY – Some ten to twenty new born babies are often found to have congenital and metabolic disorders monthly, a paediatrician from the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) said here recently.

Dr. Sharon T. Gawigawen, Medical Officer IV of BGHMC’s Department of Pediatrics, said that of the average 600 new born babies in the hospital monthly that are subjected to the new born screening procedures, at least 50 babies turn out to have congenital and metabolic disorders from the initial screening process.

However, she revealed that those babies who are initially found to have congenital and metabolic disorders during the new born screening procedure will still undergo the required confirmatory tests wherein 10 to 20 babies often turn out to have the said disorders that warn them to undergo the mandatory medication for them to be able to reduce the threats of the genetically acquired illness that could last for the length of their lives.

Gawigawen underscored that babies who are found to have congenital and metabolic disorders based on the new born screening can still live a normal life provided that they will not be eating food or be exposed to items that could trigger the disorders to become evident, thus, parents are being provided with the appropriate medical advise on how to deal with situations being encountered by their babies that have the disorders.

The BGHMC physician said that all new born babies undergo the mandatory new born screening being mandated by health authorities wherein the 6-test procedure amounting to P550 is being fully covered by the Philippine health Insurance Corporation while the expanded new born screening procedure amounting to P1,500 is partially subsidized by the health insurance corporation in the amount of P550.

Newborn screening is the practice of testing every newborn for certain harmful or potentially fatal disorders that aren’t otherwise apparent at birth. With a simple blood test, doctors often can tell whether newborns have certain conditions that eventually could cause problems. Although these conditions are rare and most babies are given a clean bill of health, early diagnosis and proper treatment sometimes can make the difference between lifelong impairment and healthy development.

Among the disorders of babies that could be detected through the new born screening procedres include phenylketonuria (PKU), congenital hypothyroidism, galactosemia, sickle cell disease, biotinidase deficiency, congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), maple syrup urine disease (MSUD), tyrosinemia, cystic fibrosis (CF), MCAD deficiency, severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) and toxoplasmosis.

Gawigawen explained that after getting the blood samples from new born babies, the samples are being sent to the National New Born Screening Center for the conduct of the initial screening and that it will take a month for the results to be released and the same shall be immediately provided to the families of the babies that underwent the screening.

For those who have been found to have congenital and metabolic disorders during the initial screening, she emphasized that the babies will again undergo the required confirmatory test wherein the results will be made available to the families within two weeks where decisions are made to subject the babies to the appropriate medication.

By Dexter A. See

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