China moves to expand newborn screening

5 June 2014

PerkinElmer has announced an exclusive collaboration with China's National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) to implement a three-year training programme for newborn screening.

The National Maternal & Children Health Surveillance Office (NMCHSO) is working with the company, which produces a range of newborn screening and testing technologies, to increase availability and uptake of newborn screening in China, particularly via expansion into more rural areas. This will involve training of more than 3,000 health professionals and laboratory technicians in ‘sample collection, clinical diagnostics and treatment’.

The newborn screening will involve tests to identify inborn errors of metabolism (rare inherited metabolic disorders) such as congenital hypothyroidism and phenylketonuria (PKU); these conditions are not readily apparent at birth but typically require early diagnosis and swift medical intervention to prevent severe harm.

Newborn screening began in China in the 1980s and has theoretically been extended throughout the country, but in practice it is used much more comprehensively in some areas than others, creating health disparities. The NHFPC is apparently now taking steps to address these gaps in provision.

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