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Genetics

Newborn Screening

Newborn Screening helps parents or guardians by screening for health conditions. Early screening helps to find some metabolic and other health conditions as soon as possible after birth, so they can be treated early when treatment is most likely to help. Babies found to be at risk for a treatable condition will get specialized care.

Babies are screened for diseases such as phenylketonuria (PKU), congenital hypothyroidism, and cystic fibrosis shortly after birth. All provinces and territories screen for the most common health conditions that have treatments known to make a difference to a child’s long-term health. Not all screen for less common conditions.

Other tests, such as newborn hearing tests, can tell whether a baby may need future services like hearing services. More than half of all cases of newborn hearing loss are caused by genetic factors that a child is born with.

In Alberta, the Newborn Metabolic Screening Program tests for conditions that affect a baby’s metabolism (how our bodies use energy to keep the body working properly). Newborn screening is important, because there are treatments for these diseases that will improve a child’s long-term health.

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