Hospitals in Peru to test newborns for seven diseases

The Peruvian government has published a law that amends the law declaring the creation of the universal neonatal screening programme to be of national interest. It states that every live birth, within the first 28 days of life, has the right to a detailed medical examination that includes the exclusion of seven diseases.

Every live birth, within the first 28 days of life, is entitled to a detailed medical examination that includes the exclusion of six diseases.

The Executive Power published yesterday (January 11, 2024) Law 31975 that amends Law 29885. It was on December 14, 2023, that the Plenary of Congress approved the opinion with 118 votes in favour and two abstentions. With a new consultation, it was exempted from a second vote with 118 votes in favour and one abstention, with which the proposal was expedited for its corresponding procedure to be enacted.

In this way, the name of the law declaring the creation of the Universal Neonatal Screening Programme to be of national interest was changed, with the aim of having a regulation that strengthens the detection of pathologies in order to provide timely treatment, the inclusion of neonatal cardiac screening, and a reduction in morbidity, disability and infant mortality, among other benefits.

On that occasion, the president of the Health and Population Commission, Nelcy Lidia Heidinger Ballesteros (APP), was in charge of supporting the relevant opinion that includes legislative initiatives nos. 2526, 2730, 3503, 4210 and 4944 by congressmen Janet Rivas Chacara (PL), Luis Flores Ancachi (AP), Alejandro Soto Reyes (APP), Milagros Jáuregui Martínez (RP) and Segundo Quiroz Barboza (BMCN), respectively.

He said that the proposals are based on improving and preventing health problems through the application of tests to detect early health conditions that could affect newborns.

He explained that neonatal screening as a public health strategy contributes to the early detection of disease prevention, which benefits individuals and society in general. Not only that, but it saves resources and improves the child’s quality of life.

Another objective of the proposed Universal Neonatal Screening Programme is to refer the patient to the appropriate health facility for timely treatment, according to the congenital anomaly or disease.

In addition, the approved opinion declares 28 June of each year as National Awareness Day for the importance of Neonatal Screening, with the aim of promoting awareness and sensitisation on the importance of neonatal screening for the prevention and health care of every child.

It also declares of national interest the performance of neonatal tests predictive of genetic disease, in order to identify, when possible, the carrier subject or the genetic predisposition or susceptibility, for medical or medical research purposes, in accordance with the guidelines approved and implemented by the national health authority.

What are the tests that the newborn will undergo?

The Law provides that every live birth, within the first 28 days of life, has the right to a detailed medical examination that includes ruling out:

Congenital hypothyroidism
Adrenal hyperplasia
Cystic fibrosis
Sensory hearing loss
Congenital cataract, and
Congenital heart disease.

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