International Neonatal Screening Day, 28 June

July 18th, 2023

International Neonatal Screening Day took place on 28 June. Currently available scientific evidence from world-wide neonatal screening programmes and pilots clearly demonstrates that the early asymptomatic detection enabled by neonatal screening, when linked to appropriate treatment, can be life changing and even lifesaving.

Research by Charles River Associates (CRA) recently showed that Ireland is lagging behind its European peers in the screening of newborn babies. Ireland is screening fully for only eight conditions in newborns via the heel prick test, while other European countries screen for more than 30. Ireland ranks 23rd out of over 30 European countries after falling from 21st place in the past six months. Although Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) was approved for inclusion last December, it still hasn’t been implemented. The lag in implementation of testing after approval is worrying as there is a risk some children will miss out on an early diagnosis and treatment that can be life-changing and sometimes lifesaving, when started before symptoms develop.

Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is a genetic neuromuscular condition affecting the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, and voluntary muscle movement (skeletal muscle). The age at which SMA symptoms begin roughly correlate with the degree to which motor function is affected; that is, the earlier the age of onset, the greater the impact on motor function. Children who display symptoms at birth or in infancy typically have the lowest level of functioning (type 1).

With the development of treatment for SMA, which can be life changing for those detected prior to symptoms developing, MDI has been advocating for SMA to be added to the heel prick test for newborn babies in Ireland. Long term data for one of these treatments Evrysdi® (risdiplam), was released the end of June, confirm the long-term efficacy and safety of Evrysdi in children with Type 1 SMA. Click here to read Roche pharmaceuticals media release.

In December 2022, Ireland’s National Screening Advisory Committee (NSAC) recommended a Health Technology Assessment (HTA) of SMA by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) with a view to potentially recommending the disease for inclusion in the heel prick test. A decision should be made in the coming months. Testing for SMA in newborns has already been approved in 15 EU countries and MDI are hopefully that it will be approved in Ireland. MDI continues to advocate for its approval and the subsequent implementation of testing in a timely manner.

In 2021, MDI also submitted an application to NSAC for Duchenne muscular dystrophy to be assessed as part of their review process for inclusion in the heel prick test programme.

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Categories: Events

1. Muscular Dystrophies

  • Becker muscular dystrophy
  • Duchenne muscular dystrophy
  • Manifesting carrier of Duchenne
  • Congenital muscular dystrophy
  •     •  General
  •     •  MDC1A (merosin-deficient congenital muscular dystrophy)
  •     •  Rigid spine syndrome (RSS)
  •     •  Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophies
  •     •  Bethlem myopathy
  • Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy
  • Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy
  • Limb-girdle types of muscular dystrophy (LGMD)
  •     •  General
  •     •  LGMD 1B (also known as Laminopathy)
  •     •  LGMD 1C (also known as Caveolinopathy)
  •     •  LGMD 2A (also known as Calpainopathy)
  •     •  LGMD 2B (also known as Dysferlinopathy)
  •     •  LGMD 2I
  • Ocular myopathies including ocularopharangeal muscular dystrophy

2. Myotonic Disorders

  • Congenital Myotonic Dystrophy
  • Myotonia
  • Myotonic Dystrophy

3. Congenital Myopathies

  • Central Core Myopathy
  • Congenital Fibre-type Disproportion Myopathy
  • Minicore (Multicore) myopathy
  • Myotubular or Centronuclear myopathy
  • Nemaline myopathy

4. Mitochondrial Myopathies

  • Mitochondrial Myopathies

5. Metabolic Disorders

  • Metabolic disorders (general)
  • McArdle’s Disease
  • Pompe’s Disease

6. Periodic Paralyses

  • Periodic Paralyses

7. Autoimmune Myositis

  • Polymyositis, Dermatomyositis and Sarcoid myopathy
  • Juvenile dermatomyositis
  • Inclusion body myositis

8. Spinal Muscular Atrophies

  • Severe (Type I)
  • Intermediate (Type II)
  • Mild (Type III)
  • Adult spinal muscular atrophy

9. Hereditary Motor and Sensory Neuropathies

  • (Also known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth or Peroneal muscular atrophy)

10. Disorders of the Neuromuscular Junction

  • Congenital myasthenic syndromes
  • Myasthenia Gravis

11. Friedreich’s Ataxia

  • Friedreich’s Ataxia

12. Other (Please Specify)

13. Unspecified