Recognizing state excellence in newborn screening

With funding from the March of Dimes, Dr. Robert Guthrie developed the first newborn screening test for PKU to help prevent mental retardation. His daughter shares her thoughts about his life and legacy in this video. Today, nearly every baby is tested for about 30 life-threatening but treatable disorders. This process is known as "newborn screening".

State newborn screening programs involve hospitals, testing laboratories and state health departments. The March of Dimes encourages states to set policies that ensure hospitals and labs work together to ensure that critical test results for every baby are available in 5 days or less. When testing takes longer, babies may grow up with lifelong disabilities or even die. 

The March of Dimes has created four awards to honor state health officials who put policies in place to address this important issue. The awards recognize state health officials who establish newborn screening delivery times of 72 hours, 48 hours or 24 hours. Our highest award - the Robert Guthrie Newborn Screening Award - will be presented to the state health official who achieves 95 percent of all newborn screens delivered from the hospital to the lab in 24 hours. An essential component of these awards is "transparency" - states must monitor their newborn screening transit times and publicly share the results. 

On September 18, 2014, the March of Dimes presented its first Newborn Screening Quality Award to William Humble, MPH, Arizona's Department of Health Services Director. Mr. Humble established a policy of full transparency for the length of time it takes Arizona hospitals to send newborn blood samples to the lab for analysis, and set a target of having 95 percent of samples delivered within 72 hours.

In addition to funding the work of Dr. Guthrie, the March of Dimes funded the development of newborn screening tests for three other conditions. In the 1990s, we led a nationwide campaign to expand newborn screening to improve the quality and consistency of vastly different state programs. Today, the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends that every baby in every state be screened for the core panel of 31 conditions.

Recipients of the Newborn Screening Quality And Guthrie Awards

  • Newborn Screening Quality Award - 72 hours
    Arizona — William Humble, MPH, Arizona's Department of Health Services Director (2014)
  • Newborn Screening Quality Award - 48 hours
  • Newborn Screening Quality Award - 24 hours
  • Robert Guthrie Newborn Screening Award