Schumer, Kelly call on Congress to approve newborn screening bill

Sep 24, 2013

Senator Charles Schumer and former NFL player Jim Kelly are urging lawmakers to extend federal funding for a newborn screening program that is scheduled to end at the end of September.

"At birth, nearly all of New York's quarter million newborns each year, and about 4 million babies in the U.S., are screened for a variety of disorders and it's done through a simple heel prick. One little drop of blood they can determine all this. The blood tests provide early detection and treatment for more than 40 congenital disorders."

Schumer and the Buffalo Bills quarterback are calling on Congress to pass the bill which enables newborns to take a blood test that can identify more than 40 diseases, including Sickle Cell, cystic fibrosis and HIV.

Kelly, whose son Hunter passed away in 2005 after being diagnosed with Krabbe leukodystrophy, says the screenings save lives.

"Senator Schumer has been on board for many years, and he understands. he understands the passion that I have as a father and as somebody that wants to make a difference. I want to be able to see kids that would have in the past been quadriplegic or passed away, be able to do something."

Schumer says the legislation he's supporting will pay for the testing through 2018, otherwise the funding is scheduled to stop at the end of the month.

The newborn screening program was passed by Congress in 2008 and helped establish national guidelines for testing, establish grant programs for educational and outreach opportunities, and to reauthorize other programs.