Massachusetts Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Newborn Screenings

The program was created in 1963 and has screened more than 2.6 million newborns in just the last 20 years.

The Massachusetts State House celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth’s newborn screening program on Monday, which according to state officials, is a “public health success story” that has touched the lives of nearly every person born in Massachusetts over the past five decades. So that includes me. And most likely, you, too.

The newborn screening program was created by the Department of Public Health (DPH) in 1963 and has been run by UMass Medical School since 1997. The program screens nearly all of the approximately 75,000 babies born annually in the state. A newborn screening exhibit will be displayed in Doric Hall at the State House and run through Dec. 13th.

Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to mandate statewide newborn screening to promote early detection and treatment of rare disorders that can threaten the health and development of newborns. Over the past 20 years, the Commonwealth has screened more than 2.6 million newborns, and more than 2,800 babies have tested positive for potentially harmful conditions.

“Newborn screening is a success story that began right here in Massachusetts,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) John Polanowicz. “Over the past five decades this program has been protecting the health and safety of millions of young lives.”