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Newborn Screening Program Comes Home to Nevada

PHOTO: Babies born in Nevada now are being screened for medical disorders by medical professionals in Nevada, after years of the program being outsourced to Oregon. Photo courtesy Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
PHOTO: Babies born in Nevada now are being screened for medical disorders by medical professionals in Nevada, after years of the program being outsourced to Oregon. Photo courtesy Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
August 6, 2014

RENO, Nev. - The program that screens newborn babies in Nevada for more than 40 medical disorders is now being handled in the Silver State, after years of being outsourced to Oregon.

Dr. Trudy Larson, director of the Nevada Newborn Screening Program at the University of Nevada-Reno, said the state still is outsourcing the program - but now, to UNR's Community Health Sciences Department.

"What we like a lot about this setup," she said, "is that the folks who are conducting the testing are here in-state, and are closer to the physicians and the families whose babies are being tested."

Larson said the estimated 40,000 babies born in Nevada each year will be tested at UNR, which also is adding about $2 million to the state's economy. She said the Nevada Newborn Screening Program, which began operation last month, also already has created several new jobs.

Previously, the newborn screening was done at the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory, which does similar work for other Western states.

Larson said the testing looks for abnormalities in a child's blood and other medical deficiencies that, if not detected and corrected, could have a devastating impact on their development.

"Very important early on to be able to increase the level of care, change diets, get medications rapidly," she said, "so that brains and babies are able to grow together."

Larson said Nevada's population increase in the past decade or so made it cost-effective to do the newborn screening in-state. The program is funded through a fee of about $80, charged as part of each birth.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NV