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Museum of DisABILITY History

The Campaign for Newborn Screening

"The Hard Sell"

In 1961, the Journal of the American Medical Association printed a letter to the editor submitted by Dr. Guthrie, which announced the effectiveness of his test in detecting PKU. Thus began Guthrie’s campaign for newborn screening, a crusade that took him around the world while branching out into additional areas of prevention, including expanded newborn screening tests and lead poisoning prevention, all of which contributed to his reputation. A relentless traveling salesman, following in the footsteps of his father, was who it took to convince the medical community and then the politicians to implement mandatory screening. It was his dream that every newborn in the world be tested. He was a man with a mission and the passion to support it. Prevention was something he pursued the rest of his life, taking any opportunity to educate an audience whether it was in a lecture hall or the lobby of an airport if that’s all that time would allow.

He took his message around the world many times and was a welcomed guest wherever he went, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan and China.