Newborn screening programs and sickle cell disease: A public health services and systems approach

Cynthia S. Minkovitz, Holly Grason, Marjory Ruderman, James F. Casella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Introduction Despite universal newborn screening (NBS), children in the U.S. continue to experience morbidity and mortality from sickle cell disease and related causes. Recognizing that assessments of public health services and systems can improve public health system performance and ultimately health outcomes, this study examined variations in NBS program activities for sickle cell disease. Methods A mixed methods study included (1) a 2009 survey of NBS programs based on ten essential public health services (N=39 states with ten or more sickle cell births over a 3-year period) and (2) key informant interviews in 2011 with 13 states that had sufficient Phase 1 survey scores, black births, and variability in state legislation and geography. Key informants were from 13 NBS programs, 22 sickle cell treatment centers, and ten advocacy organizations. Analyses were conducted in 2009-2014. Results Considerable variability exists across states in program activities and roles. More programs reported activities oriented to care of individuals - ensuring access to services, coordination, and provider education; fewer reported planning and analysis activities oriented to statewide policy development and system change. Numbers of activities were not related to the number of affected births. In-depth interviews identified opportunities to enhance activities that support statewide comprehensive systems of care. Conclusions NBS programs perform important public health roles that complement and enhance clinical services. Nationwide efforts are needed to enable NBS programs to strengthen population-based functions that are essential to ensuring quality of care for the entire population of children and families affected by sickle cell disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S39-S47
JournalAmerican journal of preventive medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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