The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has added an immunodeficiency disease that can be deadly without early intervention to a list of diseases doctors must screen newborns for.
Maryland becomes the 37th state to screen for severe combined immune deficiency, where affected infants lack the T-cells and antibody immunity that help fight infections viruses, bacteria and fungi, leaving them open to contracting life-threatening infections.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended that SCID be made a part of every state's screening panel in 2010.
"We applaud the state of Maryland for recognizing the importance of this initiative and including a dedicated line item in this year's budget to start screening for SCID," Marcia Boyle, president and founder of Immune Deficiency Foundation, a Maryland organization for patients with primary immunodeficiency diseases, said in a statement. "We will continue our advocacy and education to ensure that newborn screening for this terrible disease is established in all 50 states so that all babies, no matter where they are born, have the chance at a normal, healthy life."
Babies with the disease appear healthy at birth, but without treatment within the first 3.5 months of life will likely die. Treatment is by bone marrow transplant.
The disease is also known as "bubble boy disease" after David Vetter, the Texan born with the ailment in 1971 who lived inside a protective plastic isolator for 12 years to protect against infections.