Texas Children's Hospital announces newborn screening clinic for primary immunodeficiency disorders

Dec 03, 2012, 13:13 ET from Texas Children's Hospital

All Texas newborns will now be screened for immunodeficiency disorders at birth

HOUSTON, Dec. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Beginning in December 2012, all newborns in the state of Texas will be screened for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disorder (SCID) as part of the standard newborn screening panel which already screens for 28 additional disorders. In correlation with this new screening, Texas Children's Hospital announced a new Newborn Primary Immunodeficiency Disorder (PIDD) Screening Clinic which will immediately see referred newborns who have tested positive for SCID and other PIDDs to limit mortality rates through early diagnosis and treatment.

SCID, a genetic disorder that affects about 1 in 60,000 newborns, is more commonly known as the "Bubble Boy disease" in reference to Texas Children's Hospital patient David Vetter who suffered from X-linked SCID and lived in a sterile chamber for 12 years.

"This new screening will allow us to detect SCID early enough to diminish end organ damage by minimizing patient illness, while also allowing us to have an optimal amount of time to offer hematopoietic stem cell transplantation," said Dr. Celine Hanson, immunologist at Texas Children's Hospital. "This early detection allows our team time to offer planning and genetic counseling for future pregnancies in affected families as well."

Left undetected, children with SCID, the most severe of the inherited immune system disorders, are at risk for developing life-threatening, recurring infections including pneumonia, meningitis and bloodstream infections by the time they are six months old. Early detection and treatment can prevent serious complications and enable children to receive appropriate treatment including a stem cell or cord blood transplant, sooner. The new screening will also offer cost-savings for families as total costs for transplanting a baby shortly after birth are reduced almost tenfold compared with bills that can reach into the millions after a child with SCID becomes sick.

"Our new clinic will immediately see a referred patient identified as having a primary immunodeficiency disorder at birth so that we can begin a treatment plan and ensure that the child's fragile immune system is not exposed to germs or vaccines which could cause an infection," said Hanson. "Early detection and treatment of patients with SCID and other primary immunodeficiency disorders means we can save more children and they can go on to live healthy and productive lives."

The new screening for SCID was approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is included in the same heel prick blood draw that newborns in Texas receive to screen for 28 other disorders. Texas operates the largest newborn screening program in the nation, testing about 800,000 specimens per year. Newborn screening for SCID will provide a consistent method for pediatricians to know their patients have been screened before administering vaccines like the rotavirus vaccine, which can harm a child that has undiagnosed SCID.

"The March of Dimes is pleased that Texas will begin screening all babies for SCID because early detection and timely intervention is the key to preventing lifelong disabilities or even death for babies with this disorder," said Dr. Charleta Guillory, neonatologist at Texas Children's Hospital, state March of Dimes board member and long-time newborn screening advocate.

Pilot programs for this new screening took place in Texas, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, California, New York and Puerto Rico.

About Texas Children's Hospital
Texas Children's Hospital, a not-for-profit organization, is committed to creating a community of healthy children through excellence in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked among the top children's hospitals in the nation, Texas Children's has recognized Centers of Excellence in multiple pediatric subspecialties including the Cancer and Heart Centers, and operates the largest primary pediatric care network in the country. Texas Children's has completed a $1.5 billion expansion, which includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; Texas Children's Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; and Texas Children's Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston.  For more information on Texas Children's, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news from Texas Children's by visiting the online newsroom and on Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.

Veronika Javor Romeis
Texas Children's Hospital
832-824-2157 (o)
713-837-6289 (c)

SOURCE Texas Children's Hospital