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July 2, 2014

The approximately 100,000 babies born in New Jersey are now tested for 55 genetic and biochemical disorders each year by the state’s Public Health and Environmental Laboratories.

The latest test to be added to the list is for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), a rare genetic disease best known from David Vetter, who died in 1984 at the age of 12, after living his life in a germ-free bubble. It occurs in about one or two New Jersey newborns each year.

New Jersey began screening newborns 50 years ago, and has since identified more than 6,290 genetic and biochemical disorders. New Jersey also requires newborn infants to be screened for hearing loss and critical congenital heart defects (CCHD).

Between 2002 and 2011, hearing loss was detected in 1,106 babies who did not pass their newborn-hearing screening. In addition, three infants with previously unsuspected critical congenital heart defects were detected in the first nine months after implementing the new CCHD screening program in 2011.

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