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.

Newborn Screenings

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 enzyme.
  •  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 development.
  •  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 pneumonia.
  •  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.