Duba: More than 150,000 newborns underwent neonatal screening at Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA) health facilities as part of its ongoing efforts to detect and treat genetic and congenital disorders early on.

Dr Fatma Sultan Al Olama, Consultant and Head of the Child Health Section at DHA’s Primary Healthcare Centre, said the neonatal programme aims to test all newborn babies to ensure that they are free from genetic and congenital disorders, which may affect their physical and mental development.

“The early detection and treatment of these disorders is the only way to protect our newborn from mental and physical complications associated with these disorders,” said Dr Al Olama.

She stressed the importance of screening as newborns may not show obvious signs that they have an inherited disorder until after health complications have developed. Early detection can allow the physician to start specialised medical treatment that may improve the long-term health of the baby.

She said that newborns undergo the screening between 24 -48 hours after they are born by taking a drop of blood from the heel of the newborn’s foot and testing it.

Dr Al Olama said that the early detection screenings are available at DHA hospitals and clinics and that 152,074 babies have been screened from 2003 till end of October 2019.

Neonatal screening can identify the presence of more than 50 inherited disorders, including Cystic Fibrosis Maple Syrup Urine Disease, Congenital Hypothyroidism and Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia.

Cases detected so far

The DHA screening succeeded in detecting 145 cases of sickle cell disease, 129 cases of congenital hypothyroidism (TSH), 59 metabolism disorders, 40 cases of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), 19 cases of phenylketonuria (PKU), 9 cases of cystic fibrosis and six cases of Biotinidase deficiency.

If tested positive, then further investigation would be made in order to provide him/her with the needed treatment.

Children with developmental delays may then be referred to the DHA’s Early Intervention Centre.

The Primary Health Care Sector’s early intervention centre, which is located in Al Mizhar Health Centre’s grounds provides quality early intervention services for children up to six-years-old who suffer from developmental delays.