Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office
Governor Fletcher Announces New, Expanded Newborn screening

Press Release Date:  Friday, January 13, 2006  
Contact Information:  Brett Hall
Jodi Whitaker
Troy Body
502-564-2611
 


Screening Initiative Will Save Lives

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Governor Ernie Fletcher today announced that every newborn in Kentucky is now being tested for metabolic conditions at nationally recommended levels since the successful completion of the pilot program.

"Newborn screenings are essential,” said Governor Fletcher. “The importance of providing these metabolic screenings to every child in Kentucky cannot be overstated. For many of our children, early screening can literally mean the difference between a healthy life and one spent battling a debilitating condition. It can even mean the difference between life and death.”

 “This is an exciting day for Kentucky’s babies. Knowing three babies, due to expanded testing, have already been scanned with metabolic disorders and their treatment started, shows the need for these tests,” said Senator Julie Denton (R- Louisville). “I want to thank Governor Fletcher and Dr. Steve Davis for their commitment to the babies of Kentucky.”

Governor Fletcher successfully got the 2005 General Assembly to pass Senate Bill 24, which approved the expanded screening program and made its funding permanent.  The Department for Public Health began the rollout of the program in July of that same year. The rollout included the installation and testing of new equipment at the State Public Health Lab, staff training from the Mayo Clinic and putting in place the other key elements for a comprehensive program to identify and treat rare metabolic disorders identified in any of the 55,000 babies born in Kentucky each year.

Kentucky’s program focuses on “the circle of newborn screening,” which includes lab testing, provider education, case management by public health nurses and ensuring diagnosis and treatment by appropriate specialists at the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville. These four components ensure parents receive assistance in navigating the system.

Since last December when expanded screening began in a pilot capacity, more than 6,000 babies have been tested. Three diagnoses for treatable, potentially fatal conditions have already been made based on positive screenings. The program is now fully operational.

 

“This comprehensive program ensures the human side of newborn screening is provided for, as well as the necessary technology,” said Health and Family Services Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell. “We want to ensure families get the help they need when one of these life-threatening conditions is identified in their newborn.”

 

It is estimated that up to 5 percent of childhood deaths attributed to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) may have actually been caused by a treatable metabolic condition. Over two years (2002-2003), Kentucky lost 91 infants to SIDS.