by Megan Moore
Amarillo - Texas is the only state that does not screen newborns for Cystic Fibrosis, but that is about to change.
It is a pretty common illness, but often parents do not know their children have it until they get sick. Starting in December, all newborn babies will be screened for the disease.
The legislature, with pushing from the local chapter of the March of Dimes and local pediatricians, just approved a measure to start that mandatory screening. Local March of Dimes District Director Vicki Brooks says, "they're treating it earlier and because of the screening we're gonna be able to treat it when the baby is just days old when usually they're two years old, and there is damage already done to the lungs."
And because of that, Brooks and local doctors say the life expectancy of those diagnosed with cystic fibrosis is longer now. The early diagnosis also helps with a child's growth and intellectual development, even though they still are on medication for life.
Dr. Meganne Walsh says, "if we can diagnose them and treat them before they get sick, they don't get a lot of scarring in their lungs, we preserve their growth and therefore preserve their intelligence."
Lawana Salehi knows that first hand, because her 20 year old son was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at six months old and her 12 year old son was diagnosed at birth. She says she is glad automatic screening will soon be the norm because "a lot of kids could find out at the beginning, Dustin lost six months, you know, he had a lot of struggles and damage to his lungs before he was diagnosed and that could have been prevented."