x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Newborns to be screened for hereditary disorders

Babies in the emirate are to be tested for genetic disorders within two days of birth.

ABU DHABI // All newborns in the emirate will be tested for hereditary disorders within two days of birth. Aiming to address health problems before they become serious through early detection and treatment, the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD) has launched a comprehensive programme to screen infants in both public and private hospitals. Twenty-four hours after a baby is born, a blood sample will be taken from its heel and sent to a laboratory for screening.

"The introduction of the newborn screening programme can save infants lives or prevent serious side effects if medical intervention is started early," said Zaid al Siksek, HAAD's chief executive. Parents who do not wish to have their baby screened will be required to provide reasons and sign a refusal form. But doctors warn that their refusal could endanger their child's life. "Newborns are perhaps the most vulnerable members of our community and we aim to do all we can to protect them," said Dr Oliver Harrison, the director of public health and policy at HAAD.

Babies will be screened for 11 disorders including sickle-cell anaemia and cystic fibrosis. @Email:hkhalaf@thenational.ae