Cystic fibrosis newborn screening: a model for neuromuscular disease screening?

Ann Neurol. 2015 Feb;77(2):189-97. doi: 10.1002/ana.24316. Epub 2014 Dec 13.


Congenital neuromuscular disorders, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), and Pompe disease (acid maltase deficiency [AMD]), are candidates for universal newborn screening (NBS). In this article, we discuss the future path of NBS for these disorders with particular emphasis on DMD NBS, because of the likely approval of new gene-modifying treatments, the possible benefits of earlier treatment with corticosteroids, and the recently demonstrated feasibility of a 2-tiered approach to NBS with screening by creatine kinase (CK) levels in dried blood spots followed by mutation detection in those with elevated CK. The cystic fibrosis (CF) NBS program is a successful model for NBS. CF outcomes have consistently improved into adulthood following introduction of CF NBS because considerable resources have been devoted to practices that include: attention to improving laboratory screening, consistent confirmatory testing and immediate referral of all newly diagnosed infants to designated CF care centers that follow established practice guidelines, and ongoing evaluation of CF care centers via a centralized clinical database. Like CF, DMD, SMA, and infantile AMD are inexorably debilitating and require lifetime multidisciplinary clinical management. NBS would address the delays in diagnosis that prevent patients from receiving timely treatments. Standardized care following early diagnosis would reduce disparities in clinical care and outcomes. NBS in these neuromuscular disorders should be implemented, utilizing lessons learned from the past 20 years of CF NBS: standardized protocols for all patients identified by DMD NBS, longitudinal follow-up in multidisciplinary clinics, and coordinated oversight of these clinics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cystic Fibrosis / diagnosis*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / epidemiology
  • Cystic Fibrosis / therapy
  • Healthcare Disparities / standards
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neonatal Screening / methods*
  • Neonatal Screening / standards
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / therapy