YOUR LIFE YOUR HEALTH

A newborn screening test could be all difference between life and death

Nov 5, 2023, 10:56 PM | Updated: Nov 7, 2023, 3:18 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A newborn screening test in Utah could be the difference between life and death. That’s why doctors at Intermountain Health are trying to bring awareness to parents about its critical importance.

KSL meteorologist Kristen Van Dyke says the test helped save her son’s life when he was born.  Her son, Wilson, is almost 4 years old, and you would never know by his energy and drive that he was so close to death. Wilson, the firstborn of Van Dyke and her husband Tom Nelson, was born on Dec. 2, 2019.

The Van Dykes thought they were going to lose their 2-day-old boy when his little 5-pound, 10-ounce body suddenly started to shut down as Wilson was being prepared for a minor surgical procedure to have a cyst removed. Doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

“It was such an ordeal, and it was so traumatic,” Van Dyke said. “All these doctors and nurses and techs come running in I have no idea what’s going on.”

Even Nelson, who is an emergency medical director at Intermountain Health, was very worried.

“The uncertainty of those first few days was really difficult just seeing your child kind of languish in the hospital and nobody knew what was going on,” he said.

A rare condition

As it turns out, Wilson had a rare genetic metabolic condition known as MCAD.

“MCAD is an acronym for medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency, and it’s basically describing that he is deficient of an enzyme that everyone else has,” Nelson said.

The diagnosis was only discovered because of a critical type of screening. A newborn bloodspot test that checks newborns for 42 disorders from just a few drops of blood.

Dr. Peter Lindgren, a pediatrician at Intermountain Health, said the simple test, required by state law, can save lives.

“There are things that you can’t see,” Lindgren said. “You screen for things that you can actually intervene with, and make a difference in somebody’s life.”

The screening made all the difference

For the Van Dykes, the screening was the difference between life and death for their son.“It saved Wilson,” Van Dyke said. “Regardless of when we found out this was imperative for us to know.”

“If we didn’t have that information, I don’t think he’d be with us today,” Nelson said.

And now that they are armed with this medical information, they say it changes everything for Wilson’s future.

“He has a lifelong condition that with proper diet is completely manageable and he can live a long and healthy and happy life,” Nelson said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Your Life Your Health

Tom Nehring practicing his punches against a punching bag with another boxer....

Emma Benson and Michael Houck, KSL TV

‘This is medicine for me’: A Utah man is battling Parkinson’s with boxing

An interactive class is helping those effected by Parkinson’s disease by keeping them active with boxing.

2 days ago

(FILE) An audiologist preforming an a  hearing test. (KSL TV)...

Emma Benson

Listen up! The health consequences of untreated hearing loss

Around 600,000 people in Utah have hearing loss, but many may not realize they do until they're tested and how it can affect their health.

9 days ago

Kenneth Applegate was diagnosed with high blood pressure. (Courtesy: Kenneth Applegate)...

Emma Benson

Utah dad’s journey from hypertension to health

At age 25, Applegate was diagnosed with high blood pressure. At first, he didn't think it was a big deal, until things became more serious.

16 days ago

Jeremy Ward, a dad diagnosed with sleep apnea, poses with his family. (Courtesy: Jeremy Ward)...

Emma Benson

Utah man finds sleep apnea relief with Inspire sleep therapy

Utah dad of six and avid biker was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea. It wasn't until he received the Inspire implant that he found relief.

23 days ago

We're all guilty of slouching in our chairs. But did you know poor posture can cause serious health...

Emma Benson

Straightening up: How your posture affects your health

We're all guilty of slouching in our chairs. But did you know poor posture can cause serious health issues?

1 month ago

Linda Campbell showing the Breast MRI where doctors found her breast cancer....

Emma Benson

Breast MRI is helping detect cancer in high-risk patients

Intermountain Health is working on new advances in breast cancer screening by transforming early detection.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

A newborn screening test could be all difference between life and death