New program to offer free genetic testing for North Carolina newborns

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New program to offer free genetic testing for North Carolina newborns (WTVD)

Next year, parents will be able have the option for free genetic testing of their newborns for some of the leading causes of death and disability.

The tests will be more extensive than the normal series of screenings for newborns.
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Shortly after birth most newborns in the United States go through a series of screenings for genetic disorders.

That panel of tests, however, leaves out some diseases that can be detected early.

Starting next year, North Carolina parents will be able to opt in for more extensive testing developed at RTI International that could help save their child's life from a preventable disorder.

The tests are available right now, but they can be very expensive. Now those tests will be free.

The early check program screens for spinal muscular atrophy, a significant cause of death among infants, and fragile X syndrome, the leading inherited cause of intellectual disability.

Opting for the tests could not only help save your child, but it could also help save hundreds of children in the future.

If your child is found to have one of the conditions, they will be offered the chance to participate in studies that will help doctors form new approaches to treatment for the conditions.

Researchers say most of the newborns tested will not be affected by these disorders.

The early check program could also have an impact on public policy, which could lead to changes in standard new born screening panels.

The state will offer 120,000 free tests to families each year thanks to a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Read more about the RTI International Program

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