Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Actby Senator Orrin G. Hatch
Posted on 2014-12-10
HATCH. Mr. President, I applaud the passage of the Newborn
Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act.
[[Page S6532]] Across the United States, newborns are screened routinely for certain genetic, metabolic, hormonal and functional disorders. Most of these birth defects have no immediate visible effects on a baby but, unless detected and treated early, they can cause serious physical problems, developmental disability and, in some cases, death.
Fortunately, most infants are given a clean bill of health when tested. In cases where newborns are found to have metabolic disorders or hearing impairment, early diagnosis and proper treatment are crucial in making the difference between healthy development and lifelong infirmity.
Newborn screening has been saving lives for more than 50 years, but programs vary from State to State. To address disparity among States' newborn screening capabilities, Congress passed the original Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act of 2008, P.L. 110-204, legislation I sponsored with Senator Chris Dodd. The law established national newborn screening guidelines and helped facilitate comprehensive newborn screening in every State in America and the District of Columbia.
Before passage, some States offered as few as only four of the recommended tests, and only 11 States and D.C. required the recommended screening for all disorders. Today, 42 States and D.C. require screening for at least 29 of the 31 treatable core conditions, and both parents and physicians are more aware of the availability and necessity of newborn screening.
To maintain the important work of newborn screening programs, I am a proud sponsor of the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act of 2013. This legislation will allow States to continue improving their programs to help medical providers promptly diagnose and treat conditions which could result otherwise in irreversible brain damage, permanent disability, or death.
I very much appreciate and commend the hard work of my colleagues and their staffs here in the Congress, the administration, and the public health community to ensure that this program will continue to help States provide critical, timely, and lifesaving newborn screening for our youngest Americans.