UAE Report

Abu Dhabi’s newborn screening programme

The Health Authority of Abu Dhabi launched a standardized, integrated and comprehensive Newborn Screening program in March 2010. The program is implemented in both public and private sector medical institutions in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

All newborns in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi should receive newborn screening as per the mandate of the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi.

The objective of the program is that each newborn should be screened for certain harmful or potentially fatal disorders that are not otherwise diagnosed at birth. Many of these disorders are metabolic in nature, which means they interfere with the body’s ability to use nutrients to produce energy and maintain healthy tissue. Other types of disorders that may be detected through newborn screening include problems with hormones or blood disorders. These metabolic and other inherited disorders can interfere with an infant’s normal physical and mental development in a variety of ways.

Most babies are healthy at birth but the newborn screening test helps medical professionals identify any underlying issues for early treatment and diagnosis. Early treatment can help prevent the development of serious issues in the future like poor intellectual development or even death.

It is important to note that genetics are not always clear indicators for such issues. A good percentage of genetic disorders occur due to the mutation of genes during pregnancy.

Newborn screening for the following disorders:

Metabolic Disorders

• Phenylketonuria (PKU): A genetic disorder where the baby is born without the ability to breakdown proteins found in food or milk. If not treated soon enough, the baby’s intellectual development could be compromised.

• Galactosemia (GALT): A genetic disorder where the newborn infant is born without the ability to breakdown a sugar called galactose, typically found in breast milk and formula. If not treated in time, the disease could affect the baby’s brain and/or liver, resulting in poor growth and yellowish skin.

• Biotinidase (BIO): An inherited disorder whereby the baby’s body has difficulty processing biotin, one of the B vitamins sometimes referred to as vitamin H. If not treated, the baby could struggle with poor development, poor muscle tone, hearing and vision may also be compromised.

Blood Disorders

• Sickle Cell Disease: A genetic disease in which the baby’s red blood cells are abnormally formed into crescent shaped cells, as opposed to the typical round shape. This hinders the blood’s ability to be absorbed into different parts of the body. If not treated, the baby could face anemia, infection and pain as a result.

• Thalassemia (Hb S/A): A genetic disorder in which the baby’s blood cells produces a fewer number of blood cells and hemoglobin. If not treated, the newborn could face anemia, infection, pain and this could eventually hinder their growth.

• Glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase Deficiency (G6PD): A genetic disorder where the baby is born with an inadequate amount of Glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase, an enzyme found in red blood cells which protects the cells from being destroyed early. If not detected or treated in time, the infant could face anemia and infection.

Endocrine Disorders

• Congenital Hypothyroidism (CH):

This occurs when the baby’s thyroid does not secrete the necessary amount of thyroid hormones. It can occur because of an anatomic effect in the gland, an inborn error of thyroid metabolism or iodine deficiency. If not treated in time, it could result in poor intellectual development and/or growth deficiencies.

• Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH): This is typically an inherited disease in which the baby’s adrenal gland does not make enough secrete an adequate amount of hormones. If left untreated, the baby could face growth and sexual development issues in the future.

Respiratory Disorders • Cystic Fibrosis (CF): A genetic disorder in which mucus builds up in the lungs and gut of the newborn infant. This could result in chest infections and poor growth, if not treated in time.

If test results come up positive for any of the above-mentioned disorders, it does not necessarily mean that the baby will face any health problems. The test was built to detect risk factors to proactively prevent any issues that might arise in the future. More testing and examination are typically required by a specialist to confirm whether a disorder is present and the severity of the case. Early diagnosis is crucial to allow medical professionals to build a preventative treatment plan and stabilize the newborn’s health.

The treatment of each condition varies significantly on a case-to-case basis. Treatment could involve change of diet, hormone therapy or medication. If a baby has any one of the conditions screened for in the tests, it is important to begin treatment as soon as possible to avoid future complications.

l For more information, read: “Expanding the comprehensive national neonatal screening programme in the United Arab Emirates from 1995 to 2011”.

Specialist sleep and respiratory centre opens in Abu Dhabi

Middle East Health speaks to Ali Hamdani, MD, Linde Healthcare Middle East and Dr Imtiaz Khurshid, Medical Director, Linde Sleep & Respiratory Care Centre, Abu Dhabi.

Middle East Heath: Why set up a sleep centre?

 Ali Hamdani: Our long term idea is to add a varied range of services in the Middle East. Here in the UAE, we have started with a premier sleep clinic – Linde Sleep & Respiratory Care Centre. If you are fatigued, if you are snoring, if you suffer from lack of concentration or if you have a sleeping disorder – Linde Sleep & Respiratory Care Centre cater to patients with these breathing-related sleep disorders.

Dr Imtiaz Khurshid: Linde Sleep & Respiratory Care Centre is a premier 9- bed clinic. The Centre was established in order to provide comprehensive care of sleep disorders including diagnosis, treatment, education and long-term/follow up to those affected by this little-understood branch of medicine.

Ali Hamdani: The Centre was opened earlier this year. It is the only dedicated ‘sleep centre’ in Abu Dhabi and employs American Board of Internal Medicine specified standards of diagnostics and care. The objective was to bring Linde’s global healthcare expertise and respiratory solutions to the UAE and broader Middle East region. Other offerings in Linde Healthcare’s portfolio include homecare services, long- term ventilation and gas therapies.

MEH: Who does it cater to?

 Dr Imtiaz Khurshid: Sleep disorders are fairly common in the general population but are more prevalent in those who suffer from obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiac problems.

Services include consultation with an American Board certified medical consultant and specialized sleep test including actigraphy, polysomnography [sleep study], maintenance of wakefulness test and multiple sleep latency test, if needed. In addition we will provide educational and technical support for patients who use CPAP or Bi-level PAP devices. The role of education and management of obstructive sleep apnea is of vital importance and leads to improved CPAP or bi-level PAP compliance. Ali Hamdani: We have seen a good response to our services. Given the lifestyle and demographic dynamics of the UAE, the prevalence of sleep disorders is fairly high. High obesity, stress levels at work and working in shifts are various factors that contribute to this. Corporate organizations, as well as hospitals and clinics, are reacting favourably to our initiative to increase awareness around breathing-related sleep disorders.

 Date of upload: 12th Sep 2015


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