Around 72,300 babies were born in Portugal by the end of November, the lowest number ever for the same period, reveal data from the National Program for Neonatal Screening (PNRN), which covers almost all births.
Data from the PNRN, known as the “little foot test”, indicate that in the first eleven months of this year am 72,316 children are born, 6,058 less than the same period of 2021 (78,374).
According to data released by the Doctor Ricardo Jorge National Health Institute (INSA), the largest number of babies screened was observed in the districts of Lisbon and Porto, with 21,485 and 13,435 tests carried out, respectively, followed by Setúbal (5,425) and Braga (5,322).
On the other hand, Bragança (466), Portalegre (533) and Guarda (576) were the districts with the fewest newborns.
The National Neonatal Screening Program, coordinated by INSA through its Neonatal Screening, Metabolism and Genetics Unit, of the Department of Human Genetics, has been carrying out tests for some serious diseases in all newborns since 1979.
The panel of screened diseases consists of 26 pathologies: congenital hypothyroidism, cystic fibrosis and 24 inherited metabolic disorders.
The exam consists of obtaining blood droplets from the feet of newborns to allow for the diagnosis of diseases, which are clinically determined by identification in the first weeks of life, and which later on can cause mental deficiency, severe neurological changes, liver changes or even coma situations, reference the INSA.
The test must be performed between the third and sixth day of the newborn’s life, because before the third day the values of the existing markers in the baby’s blood have no diagnostic value, and after the sixth day some markers lose sensitivity, with the risk of delaying the start of treatment.
All positive cases are later referred to a network of treatment centers, located in reference hospitals.