DOH approves expanded newborn screening program

Expanded Newborn Screening (NBS)

The Department of Health (DOH) Advisory Committee on Newborn Screening (ACNBS) has approved the implementation of the expanded newborn screening program. The trial for expanded newbornscreening is currently being conducted in selected hospitals in Metro Manila and its implementation will start on January 2014.

Newborn screening program in the Philippines currently includes screening of six disorders: congenital hypothyroidism (CH), congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), phenylketonuria (PKU), glucose-6- phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, galactosemia (GAL) and maple syrup urine disease (MSUD). The expanded screening will include 22 more disorders such as hemoglobinopathies and additional metabolic disorders, namely, organic acid, fatty acid oxidation, and amino acid disorders. The latter are included in the standard care across the globe.

The expanded NBS will be offered as optional to parents in all participating facilities. First option is the screening of six disorders at ₱550, which is included in the newborn care package for Philhealth members and the second option is the full complement of disorder at ₱1500. At present, there is on-going discussion with Philhealth to increase subsidy for expanded newborn screening.

The formal recommendation to expand the coverage of the NBS program was prompted by the results of the study Enhancing case detection of selected inherited disorders through expanded newborn screening in the Philippines by Dr. Carmencita Padilla and Dr. Tomas Aguirre of University of the Philippines Manila. The data of Filipino newborns screened through the California newborn screening program (CNSP) from 2005 to 2009 revealed that serious disorders were detected from CNSP which are not included in the existing program of the country.

The screening of more disorders will save more lives and reduce unnecessary negative health outcomes of Filipino newborns. 

Newborn screening is a procedure intended for early identification of infants who are affected by certain genetic, metabolic, or infectious conditions that may lead to mental retardation or morbidity if left untreated. The NBS was integrated into the public health delivery system with the enactment of Republic Act 9288 or Newborn Screening Act of 2004.