Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Questions (162, 193)

Carol Nolan

Question:

162. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health if he will expand newborn screening tests to detect conditions such as MLD; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40031/19]

View answer

Jack Chambers

Question:

193. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Health if he will consider expanding newborn screening; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40142/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 162 and 193 together.

Currently all newborn babies (between 3 and 5 days old) are offered newborn bloodspot screening (generally known as the ‘heel prick’) through their parents/guardians for eight very rare conditions that are treatable if detected early in life.

A National Screening Committee is being established and will hold its first meeting before the end of 2019, as per recommendation 5, contained within the Scally Review (2018). The Committee’s role will be to undertake an independent assessment of the evidence for screening for a particular condition against internationally accepted criteria and make recommendations accordingly.

I appointed Professor Niall O’Higgins as Chair of the Committee in July and asked that, as part of its initial body of work, the Committee prioritise a review of the national newborn blood-spot screening programme and look specifically at how Ireland should best proceed with an expansion in line with international best practice.