CF newborn screening to be offered in New Brunswick

Tenth Canadian province to test newborns for cystic fibrosis

FREDERICTON, May 14, 2014 /CNW/ - Cystic Fibrosis Canada applauds the government of New Brunswick for implementing newborn screening for cystic fibrosis. This life-saving testing provides babies who are diagnosed with cystic fibrosis with a healthier start in life through early CF treatment and care.

The IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the New Brunswick CF Clinic at Saint John Regional Hospital have been outstanding champions in Cystic Fibrosis Canada's advocacy efforts to bring newborn screening to New Brunswick.

"IWK Health Centre is very pleased that New Brunswick has agreed to expand their newborn screening to include cystic fibrosis," said Dr. Daniel Hughes, CF Director at the IWK Health Centre and Head of the Respiratory Division of the Department of Pediatrics at Dalhousie University. "Patients identified through the CF screening process will be assessed in the CF Clinic at the IWK Health Centre and arrangements will be made for 'shared-care' with New Brunswick physicians."

"The New Brunswick CF Clinic located at the Saint John Regional Hospital is thrilled with the government's plans to screen all New Brunswick newborns for cystic fibrosis," said Dr. Wendy Alexander, Director of the New Brunswick CF Clinic at Saint John Regional Hospital. "It is well known that early detection of cystic fibrosis leads to the early start of treatment and care in CF clinics ― improving long-term health outcomes for CF patients. Our clinic is very excited and we look forward to working with our new babies and families."

"Early diagnosis of cystic fibrosis through newborn screening gives infants a better start in life," said Ken Chan, Vice President, Advocacy, Research, and Healthcare at Cystic Fibrosis Canada. "Working with the government and legislators is a vital part of raising the voice of Canadians affected by cystic fibrosis."

Without CF newborn screening, irreversible lung damage, impediments to physical growth, and digestive problems may have already occurred when the child is finally diagnosed. To slow progression of the disease, early intervention is critical.

New Brunswick becomes the tenth province to either implement or have announced implementation of newborn screening for cystic fibrosis.

Cystic Fibrosis Canada continues to advocate and work with decision-makers in Quebec and Prince Edward Island ― the only jurisdictions that have not committed to screening newborn babies for cystic fibrosis. Once both provinces agree to implement CF newborn screening, Canada will join the United States, Australia and the U.K. in offering the program as a universal standard of care.

Thanks to our volunteers and provincial advocates who have tirelessly advocated for cystic fibrosis newborn screening in all provinces, we are another step closer to universal CF screening in Canada.

Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis is the most common fatal genetic disease affecting Canadian children and young adults. It is a multi-system disease that affects mainly the lungs and the digestive system. In the lungs, where the effects are most devastating, a build-up of thick mucus causes severe respiratory problems. Mucus and protein also build up in the digestive tract, making it difficult to digest and absorb nutrients from food. As improved therapies have helped to address the malnutrition issues, ultimately most deaths related to cystic fibrosis are due to lung disease. There is no cure.

Cystic Fibrosis Canada
Cystic Fibrosis Canada is one of the world's top three charitable organizations committed to finding a cure for cystic fibrosis and is an internationally-recognized leader in funding CF research, innovation, and clinical care. We invest more funding in life-saving CF research and care than any other non-governmental agency in Canada. Since 1960, Cystic Fibrosis Canada has invested more than $150 million in leading research and care, resulting in one of the world's highest survival rates for Canadians living with cystic fibrosis. For more information, visit www.cysticfibrosis.ca.

SOURCE Cystic Fibrosis Canada

For further information: Andrea Smith, Associate, Public Relations and Advocacy Communications, Cystic Fibrosis Canada, Tel: 416-485-9149 ext. 291, Toll free: 1-800-378-2233 ext. 291, Email: MediaRelations@cysticfibrosis.ca