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MN State Fair Starts with New Push for Healthy Babies

The State Fair begins today with classics like the giant slide, along with new offerings like the Minnesota Department of Health's newborn screening booth. Credit: Lynn B/Flickr.
The State Fair begins today with classics like the giant slide, along with new offerings like the Minnesota Department of Health's newborn screening booth. Credit: Lynn B/Flickr.
August 27, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Great Minnesota Get-Together opens today and this year's run will include plenty of new offerings, including a booth focused on making sure babies in the state are getting off to a healthy start.

For the first time, the Minnesota Department of Health's Newborn Screening Program will have its own booth at the State Fair. Genetic Counselor Maggie Dreon says the screening has three parts, the first of which is the blood spot testing.

"With those little drops of blood we're able to look over 50 different conditions that have some sort of treatment or cure," says Dreon. "The other two parts of the screen are the hearing screen and then we do a heart screen, where we're looking for critical congenital heart disease or heart defects that may have gone undiagnosed prenatally."

The Minnesota Newborn Screening Program has been in place since 1965. About 400 children every year are identified via the testing as having a condition that if left untreated, can lead to illness, physical disability, developmental delay or even death.

With that importance of early diagnosis, Dreon says the goal of the newborn screening booth is to raise awareness among parents and the public.

"We've always really pushed education for providers in Minnesota," she says. "With the last couple of years, we've really taken a hard look and said 'In a world that's really focused on patient autonomy these days, how can we empower our patients and our expected parents about newborn screening?'"

The Newborn Screening Program booth is located in the Health Fair 11 building at the crossroads of Dan Patch Avenue and Cooper Street. Along with educational material on the screenings, it'll feature stories of Minnesota families positively impacted, along with giveaways and prizes.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN