From Minnesota Department of Health <[email protected]>
Subject News Release: Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) added to Minnesota’s newborn screening panel
Date January 26, 2024 4:51 PM
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minnesota department of health

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) added to Minnesota’s newborn screening panel

​Addition of DMD will help identify affected children and connect them with earlier treatment, intervention and specialty care

​The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) will add Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) to the list of conditions for which Minnesota newborns are routinely screened. Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Brooke Cunningham approved the addition of DMD to the Newborn Screening Program following a recommendation by the state's advisory committee.

​DMD is the most common form of muscular dystrophy, a genetic condition which gradually makes the body’s muscles weaker. Muscle weakness is first noticed in legs and arms, eventually leading to loss of mobility and weakness of internal muscles needed for breathing. It is extremely rare for females to have DMD, but they can be carriers. The life expectancy for males with this condition is around 20 years of age.

​“Being able to detect life-altering conditions, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, through newborn screening means families can be connected to early interventions and treatment that can not only improve a child’s quality of life, but also save lives,” said Commissioner Cunningham.

​Symptoms of DMD can go undetected for years if not identified in the newborn period. On average, DMD is not diagnosed until age 5, at which point skeletal muscle is already severely damaged and treatment options are limited.

​Screening for DMD among newborns allows families and medical specialists to tailor care, such as physical therapy, based on approved treatments available for children at certain ages. Disease-modifying treatments during the newborn period are available for 30% of affected newborns. Treatments are not curative, but symptoms and muscle breakdown are less severe.  

​Based on the birth rate in Minnesota, it is estimated that nine newborns will be detected each year and receive early treatment and intervention.

​Commissioner Cunningham signed the order on Jan. 19 directing the department’s Newborn Screening Program to begin the steps needed to implement DMD screening. This includes validating a test method, developing result and follow-up protocols and working with external partners to establish clinical guidelines. MDH will share more information once screening for DMD is ready to begin.

​The Minnesota Newborn Screening Program has been a national leader in newborn screening since 1964. Along with hospitals, labs and medical professionals across the state, newborns are routinely screened for over 60 rare and serious conditions. Identifying these disorders early leads to treatment, intervention and connection to specialty care which can prevent most health problems caused by the disorder. 

*-MDH- *

*Media inquiries:*
*Amy Barrett*
*MDH Communications *
*[email protected]* <[email protected]>

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