Newborn screening or neonatal screening encompasses a series of tests essential for early diagnosis and management to avert disability and death of a baby for number of disorders. These tests are performed after 48 hours of the birth of the baby. Various tests such as hearing screening, critical congenital heart disease tests and dry blood spot tests are conducted to diagnose various congenital or genetic conditions. The screening helps healthcare professionals to take interventional steps before symptoms develop.
In the last few years more and more people have opted for newborn screening of their babies mostly due to the increasing incidences of congenital defects. The growth of the global newborn screening market can be attributed to various key factors like:
- Increasing healthcare awareness
- Increased government support
- Technological advancements
- Greater benefits
Increased healthcare awareness and advocacy: People now are more aware of their health. With the emergence of severe and deadly disease and costlier healthcare costs people now want to take charge of their health. The growing pursuit of healthy attributes indicates that people have now more inclined towards prevention than cure. NBS is one step towards this direction which further needs to be advocated by the health professionals and providers to implement NBS as a mandatory public health program or as a thrust area.
Increased government support- Recognizing the benefits associated with the program, more and more countries worldwide are working to make neonatal screening mandatory. The newborn screening program is actively being carried out in various other parts of the world as a part of the government’s public health initiative. In various countries, neonatal screening program has been integrated with the country’s national health program where the government provides NBS services at state-run hospitals. Additionally, in various countries, newborn screening is performed on every infant regardless of the parents’ health insurance status or ability to pay.
Technological advancements- Technology has always been impacting NBS laboratories. Advanced clinical testing platforms like tandem mass spectrometry, multi-marker HPLC, multi-analyte immunoassays etc. are being widely brought into use for various neo-natal screening modalities to detect various newborn disorders. Technological advancements and higher automation have facilitated more precise screening and diagnosis of more complex congenital disorders. It can be said that technical advancements are directly related to the expansion of NBS services.
Greater benefits- Getting your child screened for various diseases is surely a benefitting move. The procedure provides an opportunity to safeguard the baby from preventable complications of certain undiagnosed/asymptomatic medical conditions at the very early stage of life. Screening can detect the risk to a baby during his/her initial days after which suitable treatment is initiated to ward off the disorder before it can cause any significant harm to the baby.