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First International Neonatal Screening Day

29 June 2021

On Monday 28 June 2021, SA Pathology was proud to celebrate the inaugural International Neonatal Screening Day, recognising more than 50 years of newborn screening.

SA Pathology’s Newborn Screening Laboratory has proudly performed screening tests for babies born in South Australia, lower part of the Northern Territory and Tasmania since the 1970s at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide.

Newborn screening has been a truly revolutionary milestone in public health, providing life changing benefits for children who are identified and treated before the devastating effects of serious conditions that can cause irreversible damage and in some cases death.

SA Pathology currently screens for more than 25 different disorders for which in many there is a successful treatment. These conditions including congenital hypothyroidism, cystic fibrosis, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, galactosaemias, amino acid disorders, fatty acid oxidation disorders and organic acid disorders.

Newborn screening was pioneered by Dr Robert Guthrie in the mid 1960s with the invention of a test for phenylketonuria (PKU) using a revolutionary dried whole blood collection on filter paper which became known as the Guthrie card – a means by which samples can be collected and transported safely and cheaply to laboratories for testing. His work is still evident in neonatal screening programs across the globe where over 40 million babies are screened annually.

The date 28 June, Dr Guthrie’s birthday, honours his lifetime’s work improving health outcomes for millions of babies.