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JIMD Rep. 2015;15:79-93. doi: 10.1007/8904_2014_302. Epub 2014 Apr 10.

Newborn screening for galactosemia in the United States: looking back, looking around, and looking ahead.

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1
Department of Human Genetics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, 30322, USA.

Abstract

It has been 50 years since the first newborn screening (NBS) test for galactosemia was conducted in Oregon, and almost 10 years since the last US state added galactosemia to their NBS panel. During that time an estimated >2,500 babies with classic galactosemia have been identified by NBS. Most of these infants were spared the trauma of acute disease by early diagnosis and intervention, and many are alive today because of NBS. Newborn screening for galactosemia is a success story, but not yet a story with a completely happy ending. NBS, follow-up testing, and intervention for galactosemia continue to present challenges that highlight gaps in our knowledge. Here we compare galactosemia screening and follow-up data from 39 NBS programs gathered from the states directly or from public sources. On some matters the programs agreed: for example, those providing relevant data all identify classic galactosemia in close to 1/50,000 newborns and recommend immediate and lifelong dietary restriction of galactose for those infants. On other matters the programs disagree. For example, Duarte galactosemia (DG) detection rates vary dramatically among states, largely reflecting differences in screening approach. For infants diagnosed with DG, >80% of the programs surveyed recommend complete or partial dietary galactose restriction for the first year of life, or give mixed recommendations; <20% recommend no intervention. This disparity presents an ongoing dilemma for families and healthcare providers that could and should be resolved.

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