Newborn screening for Sickle Cell Disease has been shown in many countries across the Globe to result in a dramatic improvement in the health and life expectancy of children with Sickle Cell. Screening will also detect newborns with Thalassemia Major.The purpose of screening newborns for Sickle Cell is to be able to reduce the incidence of severe infections in affected infants. The introduction of Penicillin and the scheduling of vaccinations against Hemophilus (HiB), Pneumoccocus (Prevanar, Pneumovax) and Meningococcus (Menactra), and annual influenza (flu shot) has meant that almost all children born with Sickle Cell will now survive to adulthood.Identifying Sickle Cell at an early age also permits for screening children for other sickle cell problems, most noticeably use of transcranial doppler ultrasound for stroke.
Sickle Cell Disease is now included in the provincial newborn screening programs in British Columbia, Ontario, most of Quebec, and shortly in Nova Scotia. However, there remain many provinces where this is not routinely performed. CanHaem and the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Canada (SCDAC) continue to advocate for this.