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MDH now screening Minnesota newborns for rare Krabbe disease

WCCO digital headlines: Midday of Feb. 26, 2024
WCCO digital headlines: Midday of Feb. 26, 2024 07:16

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota newborns will now be screened for a rare neurological disease that has no known cure.

The Minnesota Department of Health announced on Monday that Krabbe disease will now be a part of its Newborn Screening Program.

Krabbe disease is an inherited condition that prevents newborns from fully breaking down certain fats, according to MDH. That fat buildup can cause severe neurological problems and possibly death within the first two years of a child's life.

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Stem cell transplants are currently the only treatment for Krabbe disease, and are most effective within the baby's first 30 days. MDH says M Health Fairview Masonic Children's Hospital in Minneapolis is the only hospital in the region that performs newborn stem cell transplants.

"Adding Krabbe disease to the long list of conditions the lab already screens for will help identify more children earlier, slow the progression of their symptoms and even increase their lifespan," said MDH Commissioner Dr. Brooke Cunningham.

MDH started screening Minnesota newborns in 1964. Last year, 60,400 newborns were screened for more than 60 medical conditions, leading to early intervention and treatment recommendations for about 400 babies.

Parents are allowed to opt out of the screenings.

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