Updated on 31 December 2012
Please explain the BabyShield program in detail?
BabyShield is the world's first painless and most advanced newborn screening program. The screening is done using a sample of the baby's umbilical cord blood and urine. The umbilical cord contains residual blood (cord blood) from which a few drops of blood is collected as cord blood spots in a special paper. This is a simple and safe procedure which is done within 10 minutes after the baby is born. This causes no harm to the baby, since the umbilical cord is already cut after birth.
The second part of the sample that is required for newborn screening is the baby's urine. It takes about 48 hours after birth for the baby to set its metabolism and to start urinating. The urine is collected in special filter papers provided in the Newborn screening kit, air-dried and sent to the lab in Chennai for testing. The collection procedure is simple and non-invasive as the filter papers are placed in the baby's diapers. Both the samples are sealed and sent to our center. Using these two samples, we then screen for 118 health conditions enabling early diagnosis and timely treatment thus improving the life of the child.
Several newborn screening program have existed since 1960. The first program that was offered was the single indication PKU. In the 1970s indications such congenital hypothyroidism was added to this system, a condition which is widely prevalent in the Asian populations. In 1970s the WHO issued guidelines on how countries should think about large scale newborn screening programs. Countries that have achieved infant mortality rates of less than 10-per-1000, all have newborn screening programs in place, either sponsored by the government or conducted through private ventures.
The infant mortality rate in India still stands at 47-per-1000 live births, ranking our country 153-out-of-200. States such as Goa and Kerala have already initiated newborn screening programs. Over the years several countries such as the US (in 2005) have made it mandatory for all states to screen newborns for 54 conditions by a particular method recommended by American Association of Pediatrics.
The technology offered by LifeCell is different from that being used in the US. The technology that is used in the US for primary screening is called MSMS or tandem mass spectrometry and is prone to false positive results. Once the condition is identified, majority of these conditions are then confirmed using GCMS technology.