New Delhi: A non-invasive and painless screening programme to detect health conditions in newborns was launched here on Friday. 'BabyShield' can identify and detect 118 medical conditions at birth.

It works by using the baby's blood that is collected from the umbilical cord at birth and the urine sample 48 hours after birth.

Mayur Abhaya, president and executive director of LifeCell International, a stem cell storage company, launched the service along with James Shoemaker, associate professor at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, USA and Ajay Gambhir, secretary at National Neonatology Forum.

"BabyShield will bring about a revolutionary change in the health scenario in India. It will allow a newborn to be screened in a painless way and will safeguard the child from any diseases in the future," said Abhaya."This revolutionary facility will be available across the country," he added.

"The screening process has been recognized by medical practitioners and consider it as an essential part of a health check up of a newborn child," he said."There are times when a baby is not detected with life-threatening diseases which can cause a lot of distress for the baby as well as the parents.

The newborn screening process helps in detecting various medical conditions at birth which would help in timely treatment of the baby," Shoemaker said."The BabyShield service will help prevent sudden deaths of children.

There will be screenings done for health conditions like mental retardation and infant deaths," he added. According to statistics, 26,00,000 children are born every year in India, but it ranks 153 among 200 countries in terms of infant mortality rate. Gambhir said "Newborn screening and immunization practice can help us solve the issue of high infant mortality rate.”

(Agencies)

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