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Parents of newborn babies not aware of consequences of screening

4th October 2017

A team of University of Manchester researchers have found that changes are urgently needed in how parents are informed about newborn bloodspot screening to ensure they understand it and its consequences for them and their baby.

The research, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, suggests changes could be made which would not only ensure parents are better informed, but which could be more cost-effective than current practice.

Newborn screening is seen as one of the top public health advances of the developed world.

A blood sample taken soon after birth enables nine serious conditions such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell to be diagnosed within the first weeks of life, meaning that treatment and care can start immediately.

However, the information that has to be presented before screening is complex – relating to nine rare but very serious conditions.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, executive director iHV, commented on the research:

“This is very interesting research, but I can’t help but wonder whether it might have been helpful for the researchers to have considered the potential health visitor role in this as part of their antenatal visit.  That contact is timely being close to the birth and it could become part of a package of important information such as the immunisation programme which is discussed by the health visitor.”