Newborn screening has touched the lives of nearly every person born in Massachusetts over the past five decades. That anniversary was celebrated at the State House on Dec. 9, when a proclamation from Gov. Deval L. Patrick declared Dec. 9-15 Newborn Screening Awareness Week in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services
“If you think about the screenings we do and the disorders we identify, it can save lives,” Joyce A. Murphy, executive vice chancellor of UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division, told the WorcesterTelegram & Gazette in a front page story about the 50th anniversary of the Massachusetts Newborn Screening Program.
How one drop of her blood changed Madeleine M. Stout’s life was chronicled in an overview of the Massachusetts Newborn Screening Program published in the Mount Holyoke College Alumnae Quarterly. UMass Medical School has operated the program on behalf of the state Department of Public Health since 1997.
Testing newborns for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) is inexpensive and lifesaving, Anne Marie Comeau, PhD, deputy director of UMass Medical School’s New England Newborn Screening Program and an expert in the field, explained to The Boston Globe.
Using population-based screening outcomes of approximately 3 million infants, a team of scientists across 14 states, including four researchers at UMass Medical School, have shown that newborn screening for severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) can be successfully implemented across public health newborn screening programs. Data from 11 newborn screening programs published in the Aug. 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed the rate of SCID in newborns is higher than previously thought and believed to be 1 in 58,000.
UMass Medical School and MassHealth, the state Medicaid program, are working on an initiative to keep children with high-risk asthma healthier by trying to ensure the use of proper medications and the elimination of triggers, while reducing costly hospital visits, according to a story in the Telegram & Gazette March 4.
“Above and beyond the call of duty” doesn’t quite capture the heroic acts by New England Newborn Screening Program staff in the middle of a January blizzard, when they braved a snowbound state to collect blood samples from newborn babies that needed to be screened for early diagnosis for a range of rare disorders. The New England Newborn Screening Program is operated by UMass Medical School.
The life-saving work of the New England Newborn Screening Program, operated by UMass Medical School, does not stop, even when severe weather strikes. Program staff showed unwavering dedication the day after a January blizzard, when they endured challenging road conditions and delayed public transportation to venture into work and then volunteer to collect blood samples from 25 hospitals in Eastern Massachusetts.
The Weather Channel will air the story of Melody Rush, a lab technician in UMass Medical School’s New England Newborn Screening Program who braved a blizzard to pick up a newborn baby’s blood sample and helped save her life, in an episode of the “So You think You’d Survive?” series at 10 p.m. Nov. 19.
Paul L. Jeffrey, PharmD, a pharmacy director in UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division, is the 2015 recipient of the Massachusetts Pharmacists Association (MPhA) Bowl of Hygeia Award.