The Department of Health (DOH) has expanded the coverage of the newborn screening (NBS) program from six to 28 diseases to adequately protect infants against illnesses that may develop later in life.
In Administrative Order No. 2014-0045, the DOH said the 28 diseases fall under various types of disorder, like hemoglobinopathies, amino acid disorders, organic acidurias, disorders of fatty oxidation, carbohydrate metabolism, biotin metabolism, cystic fibrosis and endocrine disorders.
The list was expanded after a review of data on Filipino newborns screened in California from 2005 to 2011 showed that “Filipino newborns were confirmed positive with several disorders in the newborn screening panel.”
“An expanded screening program will give opportunities to significantly improve the quality of life of affected newborns and will also identify babies whose condition may not become symptomatic until permanent damage or disability has occurred,” the DOH said.
The agency has created a national technical working group under its National Center for Disease Prevention and Control to prepare the necessary guidelines for the implementation of the expanded program.
The order shows that health practitioners who deliver or assist in the delivery of a newborn shall inform the parents or legal guardians of the newborn of the availability, nature and benefits of NBS prior to delivery.
NBS shall be offered to parents with two options – the six months disorders under the basic NBS panel and the expanded one covering 28 illnesses.
Forms must be accomplished by parents refusing newborn screening.
The advisory committee on newborn screening recommended on Aug. 19, 2012 the testing fee shall be P550 for the six disorders and P1,500 for the 28 disorders.
For Philhealth members, the fee for the basic NBS will be covered by the agency while only P550 will be covered for the expanded NBS and the rest will have to be paid by the patient’s parents.