Idaho newborns to be screened for additional illnesses and conditions

DHW Communications

Idaho’s Newborn Screening Program (NBS) has expanded the list of conditions for which it screens, lifting the total number from 47 to 51 effective Feb. 1, 2022.

Idaho state law requires the Department’s NBS Program to test infants born in Idaho for rare but treatable disorders using a dried blood spot specimen. Any infant born after the effective date will be screened for all 51 conditions.

The NBS Program has been screening babies in Idaho since 1963. New technology allows screening for many conditions from a small amount of blood. The Program works with hospitals, birthing centers, midwives, and other healthcare providers to make sure babies born in Idaho are screened for harmful or potentially fatal conditions.

“Early detection of many conditions can make a big difference for newborns,” said Elke Shaw-Tulloch, administrator for the Division of Public Health, Department of Health and Welfare. “Timely treatment allows for normal growth and development, and a reduction in infant death and chronic disease. Most infants with conditions identified through screening show no obvious signs of disease immediately after birth.”

Each of the screened conditions is rare, but collectively they affect about one in 1,000 infants. On average, there are 20 to 30 diagnosed conditions each year in Idaho. In 2020, 21,534 infants received a newborn screening, and 24 were diagnosed with one of the 47 conditions for which they were screened.

“One of the conditions that has been added, Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), can drastically impact a baby’s health, and adding it to our screenings will no doubt save newborns in the future,” Shaw-Tulloch said. 

The four new conditions that will be added to the Newborn Screening Program are:

  1. Glycogen storage disease type II (Pompe)
  2. Mucopolysaccharidosis Type-1 (MPS-1)
  3. Adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD)
  4. Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)

Glycogen storage disease type II (Pompe) and Mucopolysaccharidosis Type-1 (MPS-1) are both inherited metabolic diseases characterized by build-up of toxic materials in the body’s cells and can affect many different parts of the body. Both conditions cause undigested sugar molecules and other harmful substances to, accumulate, causing a wide variety of symptoms.

Adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD) and Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) also are inherited disorders that occur when the body cannot break down certain very long chain fatty acids. These built-up fats affect the nervous system and adrenal glands, causing difficulties swallowing, weakness in the legs, seizures, weight loss, vomiting, and acute adrenal crisis (a life-threatening condition).

SMA is caused by the loss of motor neurons in the spinal cord. Motor neurons are specific nerve cells that control muscles used for breathing and movement. Infants with SMA face many physical challenges, such as trouble with movement, breathing, and swallowing.

For more information regarding newborn screening in Idaho, contact your healthcare provider, or reach out to the NBS Program at 208-334-5962 or

Additional information about newborn screening and newborn screening conditions can be found at the following link:

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at 

Media contact: Greg Stahl
Public Information Officer