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Arkansas Commits to Expand Newborn Screening
Testing to Save the Lives of Hundreds of Babies
(LITTLE ROCK, AR, July 11, 2007) -- In years past Arkansas has ranked lowest in the nation for the number of conditions screened for at birth in the March of Dimes Newborn Screening Report Card to be released today. Thanks to the combined efforts of Governor Mike Beebe, the Arkansas Board of Health, the Arkansas Department of Health and advocates for expanded screening across the state, this will no longer be true. Arkansas has committed to implementing testing for 29 life-threatening, treatable conditions by July 2008 thereby moving the state’s newborn screening program to the top tier.
“This is a great victory for Arkansas and for its children," exclaimed Sherwood resident Gail Blucker when she received the news. Ten years ago her granddaughter was born with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), one of the conditions to be tested for under the expanded program. Her granddaughter nearly died before doctors correctly diagnosed her condition. Blucker and other concerned families across the state have been urging the state to dramatically expand its newborn screening program.
“Newborn screening for CAH and other devastating diseases is inexpensive, simple, and saves lives,” explains Kelly Leight, the Executive Director of CARES Foundation, Inc., a non-profit membership and advocacy organization of which Blucker is also a member. “Arkansas’ commitment will save the lives of 47 babies throughout the state every year.”
In its severest form CAH can result in life-threatening imbalances in salt and hormone levels leading to adrenal crisis and possibly death. Frequently, newborn CAH babies show no outward signs of the disorder and are sent home only to present a few weeks later for urgent medical attention at a time when they are beyond resuscitation. On the other hand, if CAH-affected children are detected before adrenal crisis, they simply are placed on proper medications and can expect to live normal, full lives. The effects of milder forms of CAH include impaired growth, infertility, and significant quality-of-life issues. A recessive genetic disorder, CAH affects males and females in equal numbers; however, its frequency varies by ethnicity. For example, the milder form affects one in 27 Ashkenazi Jews, one in 40 Hispanics, one in 53 Croatians, and one in 300 Italians.
About CARES Foundation…
CARES Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization committed to improving the lives of families and patients affected by CAH through pro-actively advancing research for a cure, educating the public and healthcare providers about all forms of CAH, advocating for universal newborn screening, and providing support services and resources vital to the CAH community worldwide. For more information on CARES Foundation and CAH, please visit our website at http://www.caresfoundation.org or call 866-277-3737.
CARES Foundation Contact:
2414 Morris Ave., Suite 110
Union, NJ 07083
Phone: (908) 364-0272
Toll-free: (866) 227-3737
Fax: (908) 686-2019
Arkansas Families Contact: