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MDHHS supports World Primary Immunodeficiency Week; State promotes awareness, importance of newborn screening

For Immediate Release: April 24, 2015

LANSING, Mich. – About one out of every 500 people has a primary immunodeficiency caused by genetic or intrinsic defects. In an effort to raise awareness around the importance of early diagnosis, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recognizes this week as World PI Week – part of National Primary Immunodeficiency (PI) Awareness Month.

PI can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender, and often goes undiagnosed because it presents like an ordinary infection. However, you should speak with your physician about checking for PI if the infection requires hospitalization or intravenous antibiotics, if it subsists, reoccurs, is caused by an uncommon organism, or if you have a family history of susceptibility to infections.

The motto for the awareness week is “Test. Diagnose. Treat.” Awareness of these deficiencies, early diagnosis and treatment are the key steps to preventing adverse health outcomes. Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) is the most serious form of PI and has been included on Michigan’s Newborn Screening panel since October, 2011.

“Thanks to scientific advances, our improved understanding of SCID and other T-cell immunodeficiencies helps make early detection through newborn screening possible,” said Nick Lyon, director of the MDHHS. “Increasing awareness of primary immunodeficiency disorders reinforces the importance of early identification, diagnosis and treatment, which is the main focus of Michigan’s Newborn Screening Program.”

SCID results in critically low function of the white blood cells which ordinarily protect the body from infection. Infants with SCID can get sick quickly when exposed to common infections that other children easily fight off, and even mild illnesses can be life-threatening. Untreated infants rarely live beyond one year. Early identification of SCID through newborn screening has allowed babies with the disease to receive early, lifesaving treatment through bone marrow transplants.

For more information on primary immunodeficiencies, visit For more information about SCID symptoms and treatment, visit

The Michigan Newborn Screening Program is celebrating 50 years of saving babies in 2015. To learn more about newborn screening in Michigan, contact the MDCH Newborn Screening Program at (866) 673-9939,  or visit