Manitoba

Newborn screening program will detect rare genetic immune disorder

All newborns in Manitoba will be screened for a rare genetic disorder affecting the immune system that occurs at much higher rates in this province than in the rest of the world.

Severe combined immune deficiency occurs at much higher rate in Manitoba

The condition affects about one in 60,000 newborns around the world, but about one in 16,000 in Manitoba. (Shutterstock)

All newborns in Manitoba will be screened for a rare genetic disorder affecting the immune system that occurs at much higher rates in this province than in the rest of the world.

The provincial government announced it is expanding the Manitoba Newborn Screening Program to include severe combined immune deficiency. It affects about one in 60,000 newborns around the world, but about one in 16,000 in Manitoba.

The condition is particularly common among northern Cree and Mennonite populations, often with additional mutations that are Manitoba-specific, the province said in a news release.

"Newborn screening looks for easily detectable and preventable diseases linked to inherited and non-heritable disorders," Health Minister Cameron Friesen said in a news release.

"Many of these conditions are very uncommon or rare. Early detection and treatment can help prevent irreversible impacts to a child."

The group of diseases that make up severe combined immune deficiency can cause early and severe infections. Children with the condition are at risk of severe complications from live vaccines for diseases such as tuberculosis and measles/mumps/rubella.

Children with the condition are not expected to live longer than two years, unless they receive a bone marrow transplant.

The program uses a gene-detection method developed in Manitoba. Screening will begin in 2020, and the program will cost about $440,000 per year, plus $55,000 in startup costs.

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