Talk - How early can babies tell “baby talk” from
real language? Our way with words comes a lot earlier than you
might expect. (2/27/03)
Separation - Neuroscientists have found that when kids are
deprived of a motherâ€™s love, it could affect the way their
brains are wired and make them more prone to abuse drugs as adults.
Elsewhere on the web
Newborn Screening and Genetics Resource Center
Newborn screening is a simple procedure that can alert new parents to rare
genetic disorders their babies might have.
But as this ScienCentral News video reports, not all states are screening for
The Importance of Screening
Michael Fondacaro is a five-year-old boy who cannot walk, sit up, or speak
on his own. He has a rare genetic disorder called Glutaric
Acidemia Type I, an enzyme deficiency that prevents his body from breaking
down two amino acids, lysine and tryptophan, which are found in protein-rich
foods. As a result, he cannot properly digest foods like chicken or beef.
“If it had been detected at birth,” explains his mother, Grace
Fondacaro, “we would have known right away to give him a limited protein
diet.” But the Fondacaros live in New Jersey, a state that does not
require babies to be screened for this disorder. So they fed him a regular
diet, and the level of glutaric acid in his body from his inability to digest
protein became so high and toxic that it caused permanent brain damage.
Green, medical director of the March
of Dimes, explains, “These are state-based programs. So states make
their own decisions about what disorders they test for. And as a result, there
is tremendous state-to-state variation in the quality of the programs.”
The reason not all states test for these disorders is mostly
financial. The diseases are rare and, in some cases, untreatable, and the
equipment needed to test for them is often very expensive.
The March of Dimes advocates that all babies in all states be screened for
at least nine specific inborn errors of body chemistry, as well as hearing
loss. All of these disorders can be accurately diagnosed in newborns, and
the screening is easy to do. A drop of blood from a simple heel-prick test
would have revealed Michael Fondacaroâ€™s disorder, and could have also
been tested for over 30 other disorders.
Dr. Green recommends that parents ask doctors about newborn screening before
their babies are born. “The way to get more information about newborn
screening is to ask pediatricians or obstetricians, preferably before the
baby is born. Once the baby is born, there are so many other issues for the
newborn and the parents of a newborn that sometimes newborn screening may
not be at the top of the list.”
Another thing parents can do, if they live in a state that doesnâ€™t screen
for all disorders, is have the screening done themselves. “Parents do
have the opportunity to have their babies tested through private labs,”
says Dr. Green. Private screening usually costs about $60.
The Fondacaros went to a private lab to screen their second child, Julie, who
does not have Glutaric Acidemia Type I. “[Screening] is very important,”
says Grace Fondacaro. “It saves lives and it prevents lives from being