The Sickle Cell Foundation has partnered to support the State of Georgia’s Newborn Screening Program (NBS) since 1980. The contract was originally negotiated in 1979 by Dr. Nelson McGhee, Jr., one of the organization’s founders. This program is the longest-running, and one of the most demanded services that the Foundation offers.
The NBS collaboration proved effective because, as Dr. McGhee and other stakeholders insisted, early diagnosis increases a newborn’s chances for survival. Under Georgia law, all babies — not just African-American babies, are tested at birth for sickle cell and other abnormal hemoglobins. The Foundation’s certified counselors follow up the testing with education, notification of test results, and meaningful counsel to parents of newborns.
The Sickle Cell Foundation has direct contact with an average 8,000 newborn parents every year and have served generations of Georgians. Counselors provide free educational materials in English and Spanish, make and respond to referrals, and conduct family screenings as warranted. These services raise awareness and help families better manage sickle cell disease.
Sickle cell disease is a painful, genetic blood disorder that debilitates newborns, children and adults alike. Sickle cell trait gains significance primarily for childbearing purposes. All couples are urged to take a sickle cell test — ideally, pre-marital and preconception.
For more information on Newborn Screening, speak to a Sickle Cell Foundation counselor.