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Newborn Screening is the Best Way to Detect Sickle Cell Disease and Other Diseases in Tennessee

Thursday, September 17, 2015 | 11:00am

NASHVILLE– The Tennessee Department of Health is urging everyone be aware of Sickle Cell disease and take action to identify it early. Sickle Cell Disease is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders that affects nearly 100,000 Americans.

Sickle Cell Disease is common in African Americans, Hispanic Americans and people of Middle Eastern, Asian, Indian and Mediterranean descent. Complications from SCD include pain which can start suddenly, infection, vision loss and hand-foot syndrome.

‘’The best way to detect SCD early is through newborn screening blood tests which are performed and sent to the State Public Health Laboratory,’’ said TDH Chief Medical Officer David Reagan, MD, PhD,’’ These tests are crucial in finding SCD, Critical Congenital Heart Disease, Cystic Fibrosis, hearing loss and more than 60 other diseases and conditions.’’

In 2014, the State lab conducted screenings for 80,542 newborns in Tennessee. Of these, 151 were identified with diseases or disorders. All babies born in Tennessee are required to have a newborn screening. The TDH Division of Minority Health and Disparity Elimination focuses on health issues facing minority communities like SCD, cancer, HIV/AIDS, drug and alcohol.

‘’Sickle Cell Disease is a major concern for African Americans and other minority groups ; that’s why we urge people to get tested for SCD,’’ said Tene Franklin, MS, TDH Office of Minority Health and Disparities Elimination Director. ‘’The sooner you know your SCD status, the quicker you can begin treatment.’’

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers facts, data, research and more on Sickle Cell Disease at : http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/sicklecell/index.html.