Iowa newborns will undergo testing for over 30 genetic disorders using a new test beginning August 1st. Tony Diehn of the State Health Department says they currently screen for just seven of the disorders. The new screening test uses a process called tandem mass spectrometry She expects the new tests to identify five to eight infants in the state with genetic problems each year. Diehn says early detection of these disorders can help prevent brain damage or mental retardation. As an example, fatty acid oxidation disorder is when the child is unable to break down fat into energy. That can be a problem when a child is cutting a tooth and not eating and they need to use stored fat, but are unable to. In this case the parents can treat the problem before it does any damage. She says if they know about the disorder prior to the child getting the flu, they can give the child extra fluids and be sure they have the nutritional items they need. Diehn says a review of child deaths in Virginia showed one percent of the cases involved one of the metabolic disorders. She says they believe seven deaths in Virginia could’ve been prevented with the screening.
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