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Texas Marks 50 Years of Life-Saving Tests for Newborns

News Release
News Release
May 24, 2013

Media Advisory
May 17, 2013

WHAT: The Texas Department of State Health Services is marking 50 years of advancements and expansions of the state’s newborn screening program at an event at the Capitol. The event will honor families who have been affected by genetic disorders and will highlight achievements of the program, which has helped save the lives of thousands of Texas babies since it began as a pilot project in 1963.

WHEN: 1 p.m. Monday, May 20

WHERE: Texas State Capitol, Ground Floor Rotunda

SPEAKERS: The event will include remarks by Dr. David Lakey, DSHS commissioner, and families affected by genetic disorders detected by newborn screening. State Rep. Myra Crownover also plans to attend.

Other speakers include:

  • Annaliese Martinec, San Antonio, an adult who was diagnosed with Phenylketonuria, PKU, at birth through newborn screening
  • Annalise Clayborn, Austin, a NICU nurse whose son has hemoglobin sickle cell disease detected through newborn screening
  • Bill Morris, Canyon Lake, whose healthy 13-year-old son was diagnosed with PKU detected by newborn screening. Another son passed away due to complications from a genetic disorder.
  • Trish Cook, Dallas area, whose daughter has isovaleric acidemia detected through newborn screening

BACKGROUND: All Texas babies are screened at birth for a list of life-threatening disorders and hearing loss through the state’s newborn screening program. Texas operates the largest newborn screening program in the nation, testing almost 750,000 specimens per year, or nearly 400,000 babies annually. The newborn screening tests are done on a blood sample drawn by a simple heel stick within 48 hours of birth and again at one to two weeks of age.

The screening provides an opportunity to detect medical conditions that, if not addressed early, could cause serious problems like developmental delays, major illness or death. The program began as a small pilot program testing for only one disorder, PKU. Today, Texas screens for 29 disorders and hearing loss. Texas has detected about 12,000 cases of genetic and congenital disorders in babies since 1963.

STATE LAB FOOTAGE: The state lab will be available from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Monday before the event for reporters seeking expert interviews and video footage of newborn screening technicians testing specimens. The lab is located at 1100 West 49th St., Austin. Parking map: /visitor/complex.shtm.


(News Media Contact: Carrie Williams, Director of Media Relations, 512-776-7119 or 512-965-7198.)

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