It is more than fifty years since whole population newborn screening began to provide life changing benefits for children who are identified and treated before the devastating effects of serious conditions such as phenylketonuria (PKU) can cause irreversible damage.
During those fifty years additional disorders which benefit from early detection and treatment have been added and today even more babies are identified in this way and go on to be treated successfully avoiding serious long term health consequences or even premature death.
Newborn screening has indeed been a truly revolutionary milestone in Public Health and there is much to celebrate.
On that basis, professional and patient organisations and health systems around the world are proud to announce the creation of:
International Neonatal Screening Day on 28th June 2021
The 28th June has been chosen as the birthday of Dr Robert Guthrie, perhaps the most significant key figure in the development of newborn screening as we know it today. Dr Guthrie designed not just a test to identify PKU in asymptomatic babies but also a means by which samples could be collected and transported safely and inexpensively to laboratories for testing – it marked the dawn of the programmes that we still operate today.
While much has been achieved, there is still much left to do. Many children born today still do not benefit from even basic newborn screening and in other countries, while some testing does take place, the conditions covered remains limited to one or two disorders.
We hope that International Neonatal Screening Day on 28th June will be an opportunity show our appreciation for the life changing benefits offered by this simple and cost effective intervention pioneered by Robert Guthrie and that it will act as a stimulus to improve and expand the reach and the range of the programmes on offer around the world.
The Global Task Force of the IFCC working with the International Society for Neonatal Screening is committed to supporting countries around the world to develop newborn screening where this is not in operation and to extend this where it already available but limited.
Do join us and spread the good news about Newborn Screening in your neighbourhood, region and country – there is so much to say and so much to celebrate!