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Timely diagnostics saves lives: over 200 thousand neonatal screening tests have been performed in Ukraine

12 February 2024

Neonatal screening allows you to identify hereditary and congenital pathology in a child in the first hours of life. Thanks to timely treatment, the symptoms of the disease can be neutralized or significantly alleviated.

“Detecting and starting treatment as early as possible to prevent the development of severe pathologies in newborns is a task that the expanded neonatal screening program for 21 orphan diseases can solve. I am proud that we managed to launch it during a full-scale war. So far, more than 200 thousand examinations have been conducted. The procedure is free for the family, including further examination and treatment of the child in case of risks. Screening is available throughout the country. For this purpose, four regional laboratory centers have been created and provided with expensive equipment,” said Minister of Health of Ukraine Viktor Liashko.

Previously, all newborns in Ukraine were screened for four hereditary diseases free of charge, and in October 2022, the diagnosis was expanded to include 21 orphan diseases. Since then, more than 200,000 extended neonatal screening tests have been conducted. Unfortunately, in 273 cases, a positive result was recorded, but thanks to timely diagnostics, children’s lives were saved.

In particular, thanks to neonatal screening, Maksym from Ivano-Frankivsk region was diagnosed with immunodeficiency immediately after birth, which allowed the boy to undergo a bone marrow transplant at the age of 2 months and saved his life.

Newborn babies who are diagnosed with SMA at an early stage thanks to screening now begin treatment even before the first symptoms of the disease appear.

To receive the service, the parents of a newborn only need to provide written consent to the test. After that, the doctor will prepare a package of documents for the laboratory.

The entire process of neonatal screening is supported and recorded in the electronic healthcare system: from registering a newborn in the system and taking blood samples by a doctor to processing a referral by a laboratory technician and recording a diagnostic report based on the results of the tests. This allows us to optimize communication between the parties and quickly exchange test data.

Since the launch of the expanded neonatal screening, tests have been conducted in 12 regions of the country at regional laboratory centers in Kyiv and Lviv. Expensive equipment was purchased.

Despite the war, the neonatal screening program has been developing dynamically and since April last year has been available in other regions of the country. This was made possible by the opening of regional screening centers in Kharkiv and Kryvyi Rih.