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Clin Chem. 2009 Sep;55(9):1615-26. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2009.131300. Epub 2009 Jul 2.

National academy of clinical biochemistry laboratory medicine practice guidelines: follow-up testing for metabolic disease identified by expanded newborn screening using tandem mass spectrometry; executive summary.

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  • 1Washington University and St. Louis Children's Hospital, St Louis, MO, USA.



Almost all newborns in the US are screened at birth for multiple inborn errors of metabolism using tandem mass spectrometry. Screening tests are designed to be sufficiently sensitive so that cases are not missed. The NACB recognized a need for standard guidelines for laboratory confirmation of a positive newborn screen such that all babies would benefit from equal and optimal follow-up by confirmatory testing.


A committee was formed to review available data pertaining to confirmatory testing. The committee evaluated previously published guidelines, published methodological and clinical studies, clinical case reports, and expert opinion to support optimal confirmatory testing. Grading was based on guidelines adopted from criteria derived from the US Preventive Services Task Force and on the strength of recommendations and the quality of the evidence. Three primary methods of analyte measurement were evaluated for confirmatory testing including measurement of amino acids, organic acids, and carnitine esters. The committee graded the evidence for diagnostic utility of each test for the screened conditions.


Ample data and experience were available to make strong recommendations for the practice of analyzing amino acids, organic acids, and acylcarnitines. Likewise, strong recommendations were made for the follow-up test menu for many disorders, particularly those with highest prevalence. Fewer data exist to determine the impact of newborn screening on patient outcomes in all but a few disorders. The guidelines also provide an assessment of developing technology that will fuel a refinement of current practice and ultimate expansion of the diseases detectable by tandem mass spectrometry.


Guidelines are provided for optimal follow-up testing for positive newborn screens using tandem mass spectrometry. The committee regards these tests as reliable and currently optimal for follow-up testing. .

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