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Pilot program screens for deadly disease in newborns


Narrator:            This is Science Today. Since last August, all babies born in California have been screened for a deadly immune disorder called severe combined immunodeficiency, or SCID. The pilot program, spearheaded by pediatrician Jennifer Puck of the University of California, San Francisco, has already identified about a dozen newborns as having the disease.

Puck:                  Babies with SCID can't build up their immunity. So they get one infection on top of another. They never get over anything. And if they're not recognized and treated promptly, then any one of these infections can be life threatening.

Narrator:            In 2005, Puck pioneered an efficient and cost-effective screening method that is now being used in California's pilot program, and in those of several other states.

Puck:                  SCID makes the 30th regular tests on the newborn screening panel, but SCID is right now only in the pilot phase and it's not a permanent member of the club. In order to get it added to screening permanently is going to take legislation.

Narrator:            For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.