Newborn screenings in Minnesota: 3 more conditions approved

A baby. (Photo by Marcus Brandt/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is adding three new conditions to its Newborn Screening Program, which is designed to help parents and doctors catch and treat conditions early in life. 

In a press release on Monday, MDH said its Public Health Laboratory screens all babies born in Minnesota for more than 60 conditions, and three more have been added to the screening program. They are, according to MDH:

  • Guanidinoacetate Methyltransferase Deficiency (GAMT) is a disorder that can lead to neurological problems, such as intellectual disability, seizures, behavior problems and limited speech development. Treatment may include amino acid supplements such as creatine and ornithine as well as dietary guidance from specialists.
  • Mucopolysaccharidosis Type II (MPS II), also known as Hunter Syndrome, occurs almost exclusively in males. It affects many body systems, including the muscles, skin, eyes and nerves. Treatment may include enzyme replacement therapy, physical therapy, dietary changes and surgeries.
  • Krabbe Disease can cause muscle stiffness, blindness and deafness, and it can be fatal if treatment is not administered in time. Treatment involves a stem cell transplant by 4-6 weeks of age, which is not a cure but greatly improves quality and length of life for most affected children. Newborn screening for Krabbe will allow families to consider a stem cell transplant before their child develops symptoms and it is too late to do treatment.

The three diseases are rare but can be serious if not detected and treated early. 

"Minnesota has one of the most comprehensive newborn screening programs in the country, and regularly considers additions to the program," said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Brooke Cunningham. "I want to thank the members of the Newborn Screening Advisory Committee for their dedication to this important public health service."

MDH says it will prepare to begin screening for the three new conditions by "validating testing methods, developing result and follow-up protocols, developing result and follow-up protocols, and working with external partners to establish clinical guidelines. A start date for screening will be determined as the process unfolds."