Newborn screening (NBS) programmes utilise information on a variety of clinical variables such as gestational age, sex, and birth weight to reduce false-positive screens for inborn metabolic disorders. Here we study the influence of ethnicity on metabolic marker levels in a diverse newborn population. NBS data from screen-negative singleton babies (n = 100 000) were analysed, which included blood metabolic markers measured by tandem mass spectrometry and ethnicity status reported by the parents. Metabolic marker levels were compared between major ethnic groups (Asian, Black, Hispanic, White) using effect size analysis, which controlled for group size differences and influence from clinical variables. Marker level differences found between ethnic groups were correlated to NBS data from 2532 false-positive cases for four metabolic diseases: glutaric acidemia type 1 (GA-1), methylmalonic acidemia (MMA), ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency (OTCD), and very long-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (VLCADD). In the result, 79% of the metabolic markers (34 of 43) had ethnicity-related differences. Compared to the other groups, Black infants had elevated GA-1 markers (C5DC, Cohen's d = .37, P < .001), Hispanics had elevated MMA markers (C3, Cohen's d = .13, P < .001, and C3/C2, Cohen's d = .27, P < .001); and Whites had elevated VLCADD markers (C14, Cohen's d = .28, P < .001, and C14:1, Cohen's d = .22, P < .001) and decreased OTCD markers (citrulline, Cohen's d = -.26, P < .001). These findings correlated with the higher false-positive rates in Black infants for GA-1, in Hispanics for MMA, and in Whites for OTCD and for VLCADD. Web-based tools are available to analyse ethnicity-related changes in newborn metabolism and to support developing methods to identify false-positives in metabolic screening.
Keywords: inborn metabolic disorders; informatics and statistics; newborn screening; paediatric clinical chemistry; racial/ethnic-disparities.
© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of SSIEM.