Examination baby - Which researches are there? And why are they done?
All babies receive a heel prick within six days of their birth. By means of this heel prick, some blood is taken from the baby's heel. The blood is examined to determine if the baby is suffering from a number of congenital diseases. This research method is called 'neonatal screening'. The aim is early detection of children with a predisposition to PKU (a metabolic disorder), CHT (an abnormality of the thyroid gland), AGS (an inherited disease of the adrenal gland) and 14 other diseases.
Preventing serious damage
Rapid detection and treatment of these diseases is of great importance to prevent serious damage to physical and mental development. By examining 200,000 children annually, a serious developmental disorder is prevented at 90. The organization of the heel prick is in the hands of the graft administrations. In practice, the district nurse, the general practitioner, the midwife or the maternity nurse gives the heel prick.
Examination baby: Heel prick and hearing test
Babies who receive a heel prick must from now on be tested for congenital hearing defects. For practical reasons, the State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) wants to combine the hearing test with the heel prick. This year is a transitional year for this. From 1 January 2007, only one home visit is required for heel prick and hearing tests by the consultation office or home care. Hearing screening has been taking place since the summer of 2005 a few days after birth. Babies used to have the test only after nine months.
Baby research: Extension of neonatal screening
The state secretary of Health, Welfare and Sport has announced in a letter of parliament that the number of conditions for screening during the heel prick test will be increased by fifteen. She takes over the advice of the Health Council.
The expansion is in the health interests of the child. This concerns, for example, the detection of sickle cell disease and MCAD deficiency, conditions that can be treated after detection. This is the first step towards a careful and responsible implementation of the expansion of the number of disorders, as there is still a need to be prepared, developed and selected. The patient and parent organizations and the professional groups demand a careful gradual introduction, good information and informed consent.
Participation should not be free of obligation
Neonatal screening is successful. More than 99 percent of the parents of newborns participate. The State Secretary therefore finds it important that parents fully subscribe to the importance of the more extensive screening. Parents are free to decide whether their child should undergo a heel prick. The State Secretary does, however, note that participation should not be voluntary. The heel prick is in the best interest of the child and parents should decide in the interests of their child.
Cystic Fibrosis (CF)
From 1 January 2008, research will be carried out in the provinces of Gelderland, Limburg, Noord-Brabant and Utrecht into the possibilities of adding Cystic Fibrosis (CF) to the heel prick.
Except for a heel prick, every newborn baby receives a hearing screening. In most regions, this happens simultaneously with the heel prick.