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Michigan marks 50 years of infant health screening

State health officials are celebrating the 50th anniversary of a screening program that has saved the lives of more than seven thousand newborns.

Starting with just one test in 1963, Michigan doctors now routinely test newborn infants for more than 50 potentially life threatening conditions.

Matthew Davis is the Chief Medical Executive with the Michigan Department of Community Health.    He says infant screening is one of the best success stories in public health.

“By finding out conditions early, we’re able to put in place therapies that are as simple as eating particular foods or drinking particular drinks that can be healthy for babies with metabolic conditions,” Davis says, “That helps save emergency department conditions and hospitalizations later in life.”

Davis says in 2012 alone, more than three hundred infants in Michigan were diagnosed with serious medical issues through the infant health screening program.

Alex MacVicar was among those at today’s event at the state capitol.  

The 21 year old Western Michigan University student was diagnosed as a newborn with Galatosemia, which means he lacked the enzymes to breakdown lactose.    He credits the health screening he received as an infant with his good health today.   

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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