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MILWAUKEE – On March 3, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker today signed Senate Bill 523, expanding the Department of Health Services (DHS) authority to include additional types of newborn screening methods for all babies born in the State.
Wisconsin newborns are currently screened within hours of birth for 41 potentially life-threatening, but treatable medical conditions. Previously, the State’s authority to add and delete newborn screenings was limited to blood- and urine-based screenings; this legislation expands DHS’ authority to include all types of newborn screenings.
For more than 50 years, March of Dimes has advocated for and funded newborn screening. New screening technology, including tests for Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD), can now be added to Wisconsin’s Newborn Screening panel through the traditional administrative rules process available to the State, rather than having to draft legislation that would need to go through the full legislative process.
“We thank Governor Scott Walker for passing this critically important legislation,” said Jodi Legge, State Director, March of Dimes Wisconsin Chapter. “This is a win for parents and babies throughout Wisconsin, as the new law allows the State’s non-partisan Newborn Screening Task Force — an advisory group of medical researchers, providers, ethicists, geneticists, and advocates — to make recommendations to add additional screening.
“March of Dimes is very proud to work on behalf of all infants born with birth defects and we do this through private sector research, community service, education and advocacy. In addition to our advocacy efforts, last year March of Dimes provided more than $1 million to Wisconsin universities, and almost $100 million nationally and internationally, to fund research to prevent premature birth and birth defects.
“Of the 68,000 babies born each year in Wisconsin, 7,400 are born prematurely, and more than 2,000 are born with a birth defect.”
About the March of Dimes
The March of Dimes was founded in January 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to “lead, direct and unify” the fight against polio. In FDR’s day, polio was an epidemic disease that paralyzed or killed up to 52,000 Americans, mostly children, every year. The March of Dimes galvanized America to defeat polio and fulfilled FDR’s dream of a nation free of this fearful disease. It funded the development of the Salk vaccine which was licensed in 1955, as well as the Sabin vaccine which became available in 1962. Nearly all babies born today still receive a lifesaving polio vaccine.
Today the March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies®, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.