Quebec neonatal mass urinary screening programme: from micromolecules to macromolecules

J Inherit Metab Dis. 2007 Aug;30(4):515-21. doi: 10.1007/s10545-007-0607-x. Epub 2007 Jun 14.


The Quebec Mass Urinary Screening Programme, initiated in 1971, has resulted in the screening of more than 2,500,000 newborns in the province of Quebec for 25 inherited Mendelian disorders divided into two groups. The first group concerns urea cycle disorders (citrullinaemia, hyperargininaemia, argininosuccinic aciduria), ketotic hyperglycinaemia, and organic acidurias (methylmalonic aciduria, glutaric aciduria type I, etc.); the second group relates to disorders of amino acid metabolism (cystathioninuria, prolidase deficiency, etc.) and transport (Fanconi syndrome, cystinurias, Hartnup syndrome, etc.). The main goal of the Programme is to detect and prevent these genetic diseases, some detectable only in urine, before the onset of clinical symptoms. A multiplex thin-layer chromatography methodology was developed, in which metabolites in urine are resolved and visualized by the sequential application of four different reagents to detect aminoacidopathies and organic acidurias. The technique is simple, reproducible, inexpensive and rapid, allowing the analysis of 500 samples daily by a single technician. The voluntary compliance of the parents is excellent, averaging 90% per year. Over the years, we have established a dynamic process, developing techniques or new reagents to detect as many treatable disorders as possible, now evaluating macromolecules associated with lysosomal storage disorders, mainly globotriaosylceramide (Gb3) for Fabry disease. We present here the methodology, infrastructure in place, results and recent statistics of the well-established Quebec Mass Urinary Screening Programme. We also report a study by tandem mass spectrometric analysis of urinary Gb3 in Fabry disease for the follow-up and monitoring of Fabry patients, as well as for its possible application to mass and high-risk screening programmes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / diagnosis*
  • Amino Acid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / urine
  • Chromatography, Thin Layer
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / diagnosis*
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / urine
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / diagnosis*
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / urine
  • Neonatal Screening / methods*
  • Quebec
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Time Factors