A new study led by a team from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre and Cystic Fibrosis Canada supports the benefits of newborn screening programs for cystic fibrosis.

The study’s first author, Dr Denise Mak, program manager at Healthcare at Cystic Fibrosis Canada, said in a press release that the team questioned if newborn screening for CF was beneficial “given the changes in clinical management for CF.”

“We wanted to know in an unbiased way whether newborn screening was beneficial to Canadian CF patients, or whether current treatments would allow those patients diagnosed because of symptoms, to catch up in their overall health,” Mak said.

The team of researchers used data between 2008 and 2013 from the Canadian CF Registry. They compared the rates of respiratory infections and markers of nutritional status in those diagnosed through newborn screening to those who were diagnosed clinically within the same time period. The study included 303 subjects; 201 in the newborn screening group and 102 from the non-newborn screening group.

The researchers found a higher rate of pseudomonas aeruginosa infection in children who were not screened as newborns. By age 6, more than 60% of those not screened had been infected with pseudomonas aeruginosa at least once, while less than 30% of the newborn tested patients had contracted the infection. The researchers also found that children diagnosed through newborn screening were diagnosed at earlier ages; from less than one month old to 4.9 months old.

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