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Newborn screening expanded in United Arab Emirates

Report of a story in the news   |   By Dr Philippa Brice   |   Published 24 January 2011

Source: Gulf Today

The number of disorders included in the standard newborn screening panel in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has increased from five to sixteen, it has been reported.

The Ministry of Health said that the national newborn screening programme would be further expanded next year to include testing for a total of 30 conditions. Maternity and Childhood Central Administration Director Dr Hajar Al Hosani said that the programme has covered 98% of all newborns in ministry hospitals to date and has successfully identified hundreds of serious genetic diseases; she also advised parents to consider pre-conception screening for recessive genetic disorders.

Comment:

New technical developments are making it increasingly cost-effective to provide newborn screening for increased numbers of rare genetic disorders (see previous news), and many countries are expanding their programmes with conditions relevant to their populations. The difficulty is sometimes in determining whether early diagnosis is beneficial – if there is no clear clinical advantage, is it still worthwhile in preventing unnecessary clinical investigations, and to inform parental reproductive choices? 

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