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A Milestone For America’s Newborn Screening Program

This Monday, New Jersey will celebrate the national 50th anniversary of newborn screening.

Flickr User sabianmaggy

New Jersey was the first state in the nation to implement screening of newborns for 54 genetic conditions, hearing loss and Critical Congenital Heart Defects (CCHD).

The Garden State has screened 2.4 million babies over the past two decades. During that span, almost 6,500 were identified with a biochemical or genetic condition. Between 2002 and 2011, hearing loss was found in more than 1,100 babies.

As a result of Emma’s Law, signed by Gov. Chris Christie, new testing will add 5 new disorders to the screening process. The disorders impair the body’s ability to break down substances like proteins. Testing will also begin for an immune deficiency that prevents newborns from fighting infections and is fatal if not detected.

The most up to date statistics reveal that of the more than four million babies born in the U.S. each year, newborn screening saves at least 12,000 from death or from a lifetime of disability.

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