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All newborn babies in the UK to be screened for cystic fibrosis

17 October 2007

“CF is a life-limiting disease and represents the single most common genetic condition in   people of northern European descent.   A newborn screening programme prevents the sometimes long period of stress and anxiety families suffer before the diagnosis is made, and guarantees that high quality treatment in a specialist centre is started as early as possible.”

The heel prick blood spot test is taken by the midwife when the baby is around a week old. Samples are then sent to one of a network of laboratories across the country. Other conditions that are screened for using the same newborn sample are sickle cell disease, phenylketonuria (PKU) and congenital hypothyroidism (CHT).

Professor John Price, CF Screening board Chair and Professor of Paediatric Respiratory Medicine at Kings College Hospital NHS Trust added:

“In the past, the diagnosis of cystic fibrosis was usually delayed until babies had become unwell and 1 in 5 babies with CF were not diagnosed until after their second birthday. Diagnosis by newborn screening means treatment can be started in the first few weeks of life before the babies develop chest infections and become malnourished.”

Chief Executive of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust Rosie Barnes also welcomed the successful completion of a UK-wide screening programme:

“Over two million people in the UK carry the faulty gene that causes cystic fibrosis and five babies are born with CF every week. The Cystic Fibrosis Trust has campaigned for full implementation for many years and we’re delighted that it has now been delivered.”

Contact information:

GOSH Press Office

Melanie Vessey

Tel 020 7239 3126

vessem@gosh.nhs.uk


For genuine and urgent out of hours call speak to switchboard on 020 7405 9200

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