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Rhode Island Now Screening All Babies for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency

As of today, August 1, 2014, Rhode Island has begun screening all infants born in the state for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID). This Immunodeficiency is a rare disease that causes dangerously low levels of white blood cells, which protect the body from infection. Babies with SCID appear healthy at birth, but if the disorder is not detected and treated quickly, they can become seriously ill when exposed to common infections.

"Screening all of our newborns for SCID will help make sure we detect this rare disease in time for Rhode Island families to access life-saving treatment," said Director of Health Michael Fine, MD. "Without newborn screening, doctors are unlikely to diagnose SCID before it causes a serious or even deadly infection."

Babies with SCID have the best chance of being cured through a bone marrow transplant if they are diagnosed and treated by three months of age. Early detection and diagnosis can reduce hospitalizations and improve health outcomes.

Newborn screening uses a tiny sample of a baby's blood to test for rare, hidden disorders such as SCID that are difficult to diagnose, but may affect a child's health and development. Every Rhode Island newborn receives a bloodspot screening shortly after birth to test for 29 different disorders. If left untreated, these disorders could cause developmental delays, serious medical problems, or even death. If diagnosed early, many of these disorders can be successfully managed.

The addition of SCID to Rhode Island's newborn screening panel was recommended nationally by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, endorsed by the Rhode Island Newborn Screening Advisory Committee and approved by the Director of Health. This change is consistent with national guidelines on expanded newborn screening.

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