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State Senate Passes Bill Modernizing Newborn Screening

newborn baby
The bill calls for new technology to be considered when screening newborn infants. Photo: bradleypjohnson (CC-BY)

A bill modernizing the state’s newborn screening process passed the state Senate on Tuesday.

State Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, one of the bill’s sponsors, said thanks to the foresight of the Wisconsin State Legislature in the late 1990s, a newborn screening process was created that Vukmire thinks has served the state well. The bill the Senate approved makes changes to that process.

Vukmir called the bill ‘forward-looking.’

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“This bill amends the process and allows for new technology to be considered as part of that process, instead of just new screening tests that are from blood or urine,” Vukmir said.

Under current law, the state Department of Health Services requires blood tests for congenital and metabolic disorders for every newborn. The bill changes the screening process by allowing a wider variety of tests based on recommendations from a panel of experts. An example of a test that could be written into the requirements: pulse oximetry screening, which can identify critical congenital heart defects.

Jodi Lagge, the state director of Wisconsin’s March of Dimes chapter, said they were excited to hear the Senate passed the bill.

“This bill will help ensure that everything we can screen for in the state of Wisconsin is being screened for newborn babies, so that your baby is not sent home from the hospital without having screenings,” Lagge said. “And if there is a condition that is treatable, the baby will get the best possible care as early as possible.”

The Assembly is scheduled to consider the bill on Thursday.