Newborn Screening for Sickle Cell Disease Using Point-of-Care Testing in Low-Income Setting

Pediatrics. 2019 Oct;144(4):e20184105. doi: 10.1542/peds.2018-4105. Epub 2019 Sep 17.


Background: Newborn screening provides early diagnosis for children with sickle cell disease (SCD), reducing disease-related mortality. We hypothesized that rapid point-of-care (POC) Sickle SCAN would be reliable in Haiti and would assist newborn screening.

Methods: Dried blood specimens were obtained from infant heel sticks and analyzed by isoelectric focusing (IEF) at a public hospital in Cap-Haïtien during a 1-year period. A total of 360 Guthrie cards were also analyzed for quality assurance by high-performance liquid chromatography at the Florida Newborn Screening Laboratory. In addition, two-thirds of the infants were also screened by the POC to assess differences with the IEF. The hemoglobinopathy incidence and the specificity and sensitivity of the POC scan were assessed.

Results: Overall, 1.48% of the children screened positive for SCD. The specificity and the sensitivity of POC Sickle SCAN were 0.97 (confidence interval 0.95-0.99) and 0.90 (confidence interval 0.55-1.00), respectively, relative to high-performance liquid chromatography gold standard. The confirmatory testing rate was 75% before POC and improved to 87% after POC was added for dual screening. Confirmatory testing revealed that 0.83% of children screened had SCD. Children who screened positive for SCD by POC started penicillin earlier, had their first pediatric follow-up a median of 38 days earlier, and received antipneumococcal vaccination on time when compared with those who screened positive for SCD by IEF alone.

Conclusions: The observational study revealed a high incidence of SCD among Haitian newborns. Sickle SCAN had excellent specificity and sensitivity to detect SCD during newborn screening and shortened health care access for children positive for SCD.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / blood
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / diagnosis*
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / epidemiology
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / standards
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Florida / epidemiology
  • Haiti / ethnology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Isoelectric Focusing / methods
  • Male
  • Neonatal Screening / methods*
  • Point-of-Care Testing* / standards
  • Poverty*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sickle Cell Trait / diagnosis
  • Sickle Cell Trait / epidemiology