State health board: Screen all newborns for deadly SCID disorders

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OLYMPIA — All Washington newborns could soon be tested for a potentially deadly disease that, if caught early, can be successfully treated.

On Tuesday afternoon, the State Board of Health held a public hearing on the proposal in Olympia. Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, or SCID, is a group of inherited disorders that cause severe abnormalities of the immune system. Left undetected and untreated, babies usually die before their first birthday. SCID can be treated with a stem cell transplant.

Fifteen other states recommend the screening, and the federal government is urging other states to do the same. The screening will add about $8 to the current cost of a newborn exam.

Health officials say early screenings could save taxpayers up to $170,000 a year in Medicaid costs. If the Legislature passes the proposal, the test would be required starting in July 2015.

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