ALTHOUGH screening is essential, not all newborns undergo this crucial procedure because of the cost it entails.
Parents will have to spend P550 for a newborn screening fee and kit, an amount which is beyond the means of some families.
Another reason newborns are unable to go through screening is the lack of awareness among parents.
Registered nurse Jocelyn Rillorta said raising the awareness of newborn screening is important to help save more babies in the Cordillera Administrative Region.
“NBS detects congenital metabolic disease which may result to mental retardation if left untreated,” said Rillorta.
She said the goal is to expand the screening to 28 disorders for the Filipino newborns.
Presently, there are only six disorders screened: congenital adrenal; hyperplasia; congenital hypothyroidism; phenylketonuria; galactosemia; G6PD deficiency; and maple syrup urine disorder. If these disorders are not screened, it may lead to mental retardation, anemia, and even death.
The nurse explained screening is performed through a heel prick method, where the heel of the infant’s foot is pricked to get a blood sample.
The blood is stained to an absorbent filter card. The heel prick method is done after 48-72 hours after the delivery of the baby. However, it can be done after 24 hours since most mothers leave the hospital after a day of giving birth. The blood sample is then sent to the Newborn Screening Center.
“Newborn screening is important because it will determine disorders of the infants early, and once disorders are found out, it can be treated as early as possible to avoid further complications,” Rillorta said.
PhilHealth members may have their newborns take the NBS for free because it offers the Newborn Screening Package which is available to all PhilHealth members. The package includes newborn and hearing screening, and vaccinations for Hepatitis B and BGC. (Karen Castillo, UC Intern)