Newborn blood testing saves life of infant after launch

Dr. Stacey Hume, genetics laboratory head at University of Alberta Hospital, talks about a newborn screening program that includes additional screening. The program has already saved the life of newborn infant.

Hudson Cowie was born on the morning of Sunday, June 23. Like all infants born in Alberta, Hudson was given standard screening tests to check for possible health conditions.

Just over one week later, on July 2, Hudson was diagnosed with severe combined immunodeficiency, or SCID, at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. The condition, sometimes known as the “bubble boy disease,” essentially means that Hudson was born without a functioning immune system.

Hudson was the first child in Alberta diagnosed with SCID through newborn blood spot screening, a process every infant born in Alberta undergoes in order to determine whether the child has any medical conditions that can then be treated.

Alberta Health Services introduced screening for four new conditions, including SCID, on May 31. Hudson was the first child diagnosed with SCID through the new screening, something the boy’s father credits with saving his son’s life.

“Simply put, I think it’s fair to say that this test saved my boy’s life,” Ian Cowie said.

Dr. Stacey Hume, genetics laboratory head at University of Alberta Hospital, looks at some blood samples where a newborn screening program, that includes screening for four more conditions, has been implemented. LARRY WONG/POSTMEDIA LARRY WONG / POSTMEDIA

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