Governor DeWine Announces Ohio First State in the Nation to Screen Newborn Babies for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

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(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today announced that Ohio will become the first state in the nation to begin screening all newborn babies for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).

The provision was included in HB 33, the state’s budget bill for Fiscal Years 2024-25, which Gov. DeWine signed in July 2023. It added DMD to the list of 40 other rare medical conditions included in the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) Newborn Screening program.

“Today, Ohio is the first state in the country to screen for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) in newborns,” said Governor DeWine.  “Adding DMD to the list of screenings newborns receive ensures that parents will be able to start initiating care early for children who are diagnosed with this condition.”

DMD is the most common hereditary neuromuscular disease and one of the most severe forms of inherited muscular dystrophies. An estimated 20,000 cases are diagnosed each year worldwide.

It is characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. Symptom onset is in early childhood, usually between ages 2 and 3. There is currently no cure; however, new treatments through gene therapy can help slow the progression of symptoms and improve quality of life.

Adding DMD to the Newborn Screening Program should help parents avoid what often is a long journey to getting a DMD diagnosis.

Ohio law requires newborn screening to be done on all babies born in the state. Analysis takes place in ODH’s Public Health Laboratory. Each year, the screenings help improve the health outcomes of nearly 300 babies.

It is estimated that screening will identify 35 babies with DMD in Ohio each year.

“This addition means more children in Ohio will have the chance to live their best lives,” said ODH Director Bruce Vanderhoff, MD, MBA.

Ohio also is well-positioned to treat children with DMD. The state is home to eight Comprehensive Genetics Centers, including three designated as Certified Duchenne Care Centers by the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy advocacy organization: Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Akron Children’s Hospital, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

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