Nebraska recognizes Newborn Screening Awareness Month

News 2 at Six
Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 6:18 PM CDT
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has plenty to recognize.

According to Jillian Chance, Program Manager for Newborn Screening and Genetics for the Division of Public Health at Nebraska DHHS, Nebraska is one of only 16 states that require testing for every disorder as recommended by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

This testing identifies around 60 infants a year in Nebraska with possible life threatening illnesses. The benefit of this testing is that it informs parents that these problems are present, and allows infants to be treated before these disorders turn into more severe situations.

Chance shared that because of this testing, they recently discovered the first case of Tyrosinemia Type 1 in Nebraska, a disorder that can cause liver failure.

“It is the only case we have ever detected in Nebraska and it’s ultra rare around the country,” Chance said. “This infant was able to be identified very early and there is brand new treatment for this disorder. She was able to get started on it, and is thriving today.”

Jillian Chance
Jillian Chance(Jillian Chance)

The reason that Nebraska is able to test so thoroughly for these disorders is because of a strong backing by the state legislature.

State Senator Mike Jacobson, who represents North Platte, co-sponsored a bill to make sure that testing requirements in the state stay robust.

“I’ve always been a big believer that you need to do early prevention and if you can detect things early, treat it early, you can often times keep a problem from becoming a bigger problem later,” Jacobson said. “It seems that newborn infants are a great way to do that.”

Mike Jacobson
Mike Jacobson(Mike Jacobson)

These screenings are mandatory in the state of Nebraska for all newborns, and all samples are destroyed after testing.

More information about the infant screening processes in Nebraska can be found here.