Chuck Brokopp, DrPH
Scott Becker, MS
apHl president charles brokopp, DrpH, and executive
Director scott becker sat down recently to discuss the
beginning of a year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary
of newborn screening.
Scott Becker: Fifty years of newborn screening!
What an amazing anniversary.
Charles Brokopp: Newborn screening is truly one
of the greatest accomplishments in the history of
public health. There are thousands of children and
adults who are alive today, or who have had their
lives significantly improved, as the direct result of
Becker: This year, we hope to spread the word widely
about newborn screening and its extraordinary
successes. We want people to understand the
importance of it and are hoping the APHL/CDC
awareness campaign reaches far and wide.
Brokopp: We’ve been looking forward to this anniversary as an opportunity to highlight the importance
of newborn screening.
Becker: In fact, it was two or three years ago, when
Carla Cuthbert [PhD], from CDC, was visiting APHL
that we counted back and realized we were coming
up on 50 years—what an opportunity to celebrate
newborn screening in a big way! So we began,
together with the Newborn Screening Quality Assurance Program, to brainstorm ways to raise awareness
with important audiences. Deeper into it, we realized
that the anniversary also coincides with the sunset
date of the NBS Saves Lives Act. The Act needs to be
re-authorized this year so this campaign could have
double the impact. Ultimately, we hatched a plan—
and it’s the first public awareness campaign of its kind
Brokopp: An opportunity to celebrate newborn
screening is also an opportunity to celebrate the
public health laboratory’s contributions to each state.
Over the years, the public health labs have played a
key role in the growth and expansion of screening.
This includes new tests and procedures, but also
working with others within our states and nationally
to identify the conditions that can be screened for and
to establish appropriate follow-up programs.
Becker: The cooperative nature of the newborn
screening system is why it’s fitting that this is an
awareness campaign that has many, many partners.
One of our major partners in this campaign is
PerkinElmer, which is supporting our book project.
Additionally, we are working in many capacities with
federal and state agencies, laboratories, families,
medical professionals and their societies, and other
public health organizations.
Newborn screening saves over 12,000 American
babies from death or permanent disability every year. 1
Public health laboratories are responsible for 97%
of this screening.
Brokopp: Newborn screening is one of the best
examples of a collaborative public health program
that provides significant benefits to everyone.
Recommendations from national advisory committees, professional associations and newborn screening
experts have contributed to the standardization of
laboratory and non-laboratory screening throughout
the United States.
Becker: In addition to celebrating achievements in
newborn screening, the campaign will educate
expectant parents, families and healthcare providers about the critical importance of this public health
service, and win ongoing support from policymakers
to ensure that it continues to advance.