Expanding routine newborn screening to include a metabolic vulnerability profile could lead to earlier detection of life-threatening complications in babies born preterm, according to a study by UC San Francisco researchers. The new method, which was developed at UCSF, offers valuable and time-sensitive insights into which infants are at greatest risk during their most vulnerable time, immediately after birth.
The study, published in Nature Pediatric Research by scientists at the UCSF California Preterm Birth Initiative (PTBI-CA), assessed the records of 9,639 preterm infants who experienced mortality or at least one complication or mortality.
Using the results of standard newborn profiles and blood tests, they identified a combination of six newborn characteristics and 19 metabolites that, together, created a vulnerability profile that reliably identified preterm babies at substantially increased risk for death and severe illness.
“Our results point to a number of potential biological pathways that may play a key role