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Museum of DisABILITY History

Birth of Newborn Screening

Dr. Robert Guthrie (1916-1995) is acknowledged worldwide as the Father of Prevention. His simple, inexpensive test to detect PKU (phenylketonuria) nurtured the entire field of newborn screening. PKU, which affects about one in 11,000 babies born in the United States, is a genetic disorder that leaves newborns unable to metabolize an essential amino acid. The acid builds to a toxic level and causes brain damage. The screening test, developed by 1961, allows doctors to treat the problem before irreversible damage occurs, thus preventing mental retardation. In his lifetime, Dr. Guthrie was twice nominated for the Nobel Prize. At the AAMR conference in May 1999 he was named one of the 36 Greatest Contributors to the Field of Mental Retardation in the past century! Read more:

The Guthrie Test
The Campaign for Newborn Screening
A Personal Look
Western New York Connections
Awards Received
Additional Resources
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