Renee Mirkes, Newborn Screening: Toward a Just System.

Renee Mirkes, Newborn Screening: Toward a Just System, 22 ETHICS & MED. 163 (2006).

Many characterize America's newborn screening initiatives as the modern day miracle of our public health systems. Collectively, state programs manage to test the four million neonates born every year in the U.S. for at least a minimal number of genetic and metabolic disorders.

These catastrophic diseases, though treatable, are asymptomatic or exhibit no clinical signs in the early neonatal period. Newborn screening (NBS), then, is the only way to identify the disorders early enough so that treatment may be initiated before it is too late to prevent harm. Thanks to post-screening treatment, every year an estimated 3,000 affected infants develop normally instead of succumbing to severe liver disease, physical disability, mental retardation, or sudden death.

The author's analysis of the ethics of American newborn screening programs (NBSPs) is not based on a concern about their intrinsic morality Her stated concern is the fact that every year more than 2,000 babies die or suffer morbidity...

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