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State Health Officials Celebrate 50 Years of Newborn Screening, 17 Million Children Screened 

Date: 6/19/2013 

Number: 13-025 

Contact: Anita Gore, Heather Bourbeau (916) 440-7259 


California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana S. Dooley, California Department of Public Health Director and State Health Officer Ron Chapman, and the Association of Public Health Laboratories were joined by families and champions of newborn screening at the Capitol today to celebrate 50 years of saving and improving lives through the California Newborn Screening Program (NBS). Since 1980, the NBS has screened approximately 17 million babies and expanded the screening panel from three genetic diseases to 80 different disorders.

“Every parent wants to ensure that their newborn is perfectly healthy and the NBS program is helping more families do just that,” said Secretary Dooley. “The program has been credited with saving lives and preventing disability for thousands of newborns.”

Most babies who have one of the disorders look and act like healthy newborns. Most families have no family history of the disorder. By the time symptoms are visible, irreversible damage has already occurred. Early diagnosis and treatment is the best way to prevent that,” said Dr. Chapman. “We are grateful for the strides made in technology that have led to lives saved and physical, emotional and financial pain spared through screening.” 

The mission of the California NBS program is to reduce the emotional and financial burden of disability and death caused by genetic and congenital disorders. NBS protects the health of all its newborns and is an essential preventive public health measure. Since 1966, state law requires that all babies born in California be tested before leaving the hospital. 

The California Newborn Screening Program is one of the largest in the world, and screens one out of every eight babies born in the U.S. More than 13,500 children with a serious genetic condition have been diagnosed, treated and are living healthy and productive lives because early identification and treatment.

Last modified on: 6/19/2013 10:40 AM