State expands program of infant screening

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island has expanded its program of infant screening to include a rare immune deficiency.

The Health Department said all newborns will be screened for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, or SCID, beginning Friday.

The disease causes dangerously low levels of the white blood cells that protect against infection. Babies who have it appear healthy at birth but can become seriously ill if they get common infections.

The best cure is a bone marrow transplant if babies are diagnosed by three months of age.

The addition of SCID was recommended by the federal government and endorsed by a state newborn screening advisory panel. Health Department Director Michael Fine said without the new screening, doctors aren't likely to diagnose the disease before it can cause serious or possibly fatal problems.

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