As a new or expecting parent, you place great importance on your baby's health. To ensure that your baby gets the best start in life and stays healthy, your newborn – and every other newborn in Manitoba – will be screened for 40 or more rare disorders.
Although most babies with these disorders look healthy at birth, they may be at risk of having serious health problems – including developmental disabilities, recurrent sickness and even death – if their disorder is not detected and treated. Early identification is the key to effective treatment.
Individually, these disorders are very rare. As a group, they will affect less than 1 in 1000 babies born each year in Manitoba. By testing newborns within the first days of their lives, many disorders can be treated early, reducing the chance of serious health problems later in life.
In order to perform the screening tests, a small sample of blood is taken from your baby by pricking the heel. The blood is collected on a special paper card and then sent to the Cadham Provincial Laboratory for testing. Blood samples can be taken any time between one day (24 hours) and 5 days after your baby is born. If your baby is tested before one day (24 hours) of age, the laboratory will take measures to have the test repeated within five days.
There are two types of disorders included in the screening, metabolic and endocrine. When the body is not able to break down (metabolize) certain substances in food like fats, proteins or sugars, they can accumulate in the body and cause serious health problems. These are:
When the body's hormone systems do not function properly, endocrine disorders can result. The two endocrine disorders that can be detected by this method and treated in time are:
Cystic fibrosis, the most common genetic disease affecting Canadian children, can also be detected and treated early.
A screening test only shows where there is a high or low risk that your baby has a disorder. It is important to understand that the screening test identifies babies who need further testing, it does not make a diagnosis. Once the Cadham Provincial Laboratory has received and analyzed your baby's blood sample, one of the following will occur:
The Cadham Provincial Laboratory will send a report to your hospital and/or your health care provider.
It will be filed in your baby's medical records.
More than 99 per cent of babies screened will receive a "screen negative" or normal result. This means there is a very low risk that your baby has one of these rare disorders. On very rare occasions, the newborn screening test may miss a baby with one of these disorders.
It may be that the first sample was not taken properly, there was not enough blood to complete the testing, or there was some other problem with the sample. In this case, your baby's health care provider will contact you and arrange for another blood sample to be taken as soon as possible
A screen positive does not necessarily mean that your baby has a disorder, but only that further testing
is needed. Your baby's health care provider will contact you right away to make arrangements for followup
at his/her office, or if needed, at the Winnipeg Children's Hospital. Specialists will help arrange further
testing to determine whether your baby has one of these disorders. If a diagnosis of a specific disorder
is made, the specialists at the Winnipeg Children's Hospital
will provide your baby with a care plan and
provide your family with information and counselling about the condition.
The Cadham Provincial Laboratory also issues a report to your hospital and/or health care provider, which will be filed in your baby's medical records. It is important to remember that less than one per cent of babies tested will receive a "screen positive" result and that it does not necessarily mean that there is a problem.
Your baby's newborn screen card containing the blood sample will be stored securely by Cadham Provincial Laboratory after the screening tests are completed. It may be used for follow-up tests if necessary or to ensure high quality testing at Cadham Lab on an ongoing basis. Sometimes newborn screen cards are also used for future research purposes, but only after full approval from the Research Ethics Board at the University of Manitoba is obtained and after your baby's name and personal information is removed. The blood spots are destroyed once a legally set number of years passes.
(More information on research ethics can be found at www.umanitoba.ca/faculties/medicine/research/ethics)
You have the right to refuse newborn screening. If this is your wish, ask your health care provider to indicate your refusal on the newborn blood card. The unfilled card will be sent to Cadham Provincial Laboratory so that your baby's health care provider will have your refusal documented.
For more information about newborn screening in Manitoba, speak to your health care provider or call the Cadham Provincial Laboratory at 204-945-7458.
For a PDF version of the above information, click here.
What’s New in Newborn Screening in Manitoba September 2011
|Cadham Provincial Laboratory|
750 William Avenue