Denmark to broaden health screening of newborn babies

Ritzau/The Local
Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Denmark to broaden health screening of newborn babies
Denmark is to broaden infant heel prick screening. Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

Heel prick screening of infants in Denmark is to be extended to test for six additional diseases, health authorities have announced.


The national infectious disease control agency State Serum Institute (SSI) said in a press statement that it will test for an additional six conditions including the rare genetic hormonal disorder galactosemia, which prevents the body from properly breaking down galactose sugars.

“Children born with galactosemia will be very sick during the first weeks of life. And if the disease is not treated, the majority will die of liver and kidney failure,” said Kristin Skogstrand, head of department at SSI’s Neonatal Screening Centre.

All six of the conditions which will be added to the screening are very rare. Galactosemia affects 1-2 children per year in Denmark according to SSI.

The other diseases to be screened for will be mucopolysaccharidosis type 1, homocystinuria (HCU), carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A deficiency, carnitine palmitoyltransferase 2 deficiency and carnitine-acylcarnitine translocase (CACT) deficiency.

The change means that infants will now be tested for 25 serious congenital disorders using the heel prick test. Early detection enables the disorders to be treated before they cause damage to the brain and organs.


The screening programme also includes more widespread, but still rare disorders such as congenitally low metabolism. Around 25 children per year are affected by this condition according to SSI.

Infants are also screened for cystic fibrosis, which SSI says around ten children are born with each year in Denmark.

All of the screening diseases are difficult to detect through symptoms alone before physical or other damage has occurred, but most babies can be treated if the conditions are detected early.

According to SSI, approximately 70 children each year are given life-saving treatment as a result of screening.

The decision to screen for additional diseases was taken by the Danish Health Authority and the Ministry of Health following a recommendation from a paediatric screening advisory committee.


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