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DNA test could prevent blood disorder in infants

Category: DNA, Paternity and Genetic testing

Genetic testing in newborns can help identify T-cell lymphopenia, a blood disorder that disrupts the function of the immune system, according to new research.

As part of the study, which was published in the December 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers screened all infants born in Wisconsin in 2008 for T-cell lymphopenia using a DNA test which measures the number of T-cell receptor excision circles (TREC) in a blood sample, HealthDay reports.

Of a the 71,000 infants screened, a total of 11 were found to have at least one abnormal TREC test result, eight of whom were diagnosed with T-cell lymphopenia after being evaluated by a clinical immunologist.

In many cases, the study notes, babies with the blood disorder, manifested by a low level of white blood cells, can appear to be healthy and have no family history of immunodeficiency.

"Consequently, many infants with severe T-cell deficiencies are not identified until life-threatening infections occur," said Dr John Routes of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

He added that early diagnosis, which could be facilitated by the DNA testing, dramatically improves the prognosis of newborns with the condition.

The T-cell lymphopenia screen costs only $5.50 per test, according to

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