Health Ministry Updates
In an effort to keep the Metropolitan family informed, well and aggressive about their health, the Health Ministry presents detailed facts about newborn screening, prostate cancer and sickle cell anemia on the church website.
About Newborn Screening: Newborn screening is the practice of testing every newborn for certain harmful or potentially fatal disorders that are not apparent at birth. With a simple blood test, doctors often can tell whether newborns have certain conditions that could eventually cause problems. Even though these conditions are considered rare and most babies are given a clean bill of health, early diagnosis and proper treatment can make the difference between lifelong impairment and healthy development. Most states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have mandatory newborn screening programs. If you have questions contact your doctor.
How Is Newborn Screening Performed?
In the first 2 or 3 days of life (after the first 24 hours of life), the baby’s heel will be pricked to obtain a small blood sample for testing.
Newborn Screening Tests: There are many Newborn Screening Tests. Talk to your doctor or contact your local health department for more information. Some examples of Newborn Screening Tests are:
- Phenylketonuria (PKU)-A test to identify babies
who do not have an enzyme needed to process the
amino acid phenylalanine, which is necessary for
normal growth and normal protein use throughout
life. Too much phenylalanine causes brain damage.
Children need a special diet if they do not have the
- Screening for Hypothyroidism-Babies don’t
have enough thyroid hormone and develop retarded
growth and brain development. Babies are given oral
doses of thyroid hormone to permit normal
- Galactosemia-A test to identify babies
that do not have the enzyme to convert galactose
into glucose. If the enzyme is lacking; milk
(including breast milk) and other dairy products are
eliminated from the diet.
- Sickle Cell Disease-This test is done to
identify babies with red blood cells that have an
abnormal shape like a “sickle”. The abnormal shape
of the red blood cell can cause pain and damage to
the lungs and kidneys and even death. Young children
with this disease are prone to infections such as
- Toxoplasmosis-This test screens for a
parasitic infection that can be transmitted through
the mother’s placenta to an unborn child. This
parasite is found in uncooked or undercooked meat
and can cause blindness and mental retardation.
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus-This test
screens for the virus that can be transmitted to the
unborn child by the mother. Treatment is started to
prevent progression of the disease.
- Hearing Screens-Most states required a
newborns’ hearing to be screened before they are
discharged from the hospital.