Newborn babies in Nova Scotia will soon receive better protection from harmful conditions such as sickle-cell disease and cystic fibrosis thanks to expanded screening services. “We want Nova Scotia babies to have the best possible start in life and these new screening tests will give parents the information they need for early detection and treatment,” said Health and Wellness Minister David Wilson. “As a parent myself, I remember when both of my children were born and the joy and worry the experience can bring. To a parent, there is nothing more important than the health of your new baby.” Babies born in Nova Scotia are currently screened for 13 conditions. This expansion of newborn screening will add sickle cell, cystic fibrosis, and eight additional conditions to the screening with funding from the 2013-14 provincial budget. Sickle-cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that affects people of African ancestry and other ethnic groups, including people of Mediterranean, Caribbean, Middle-Eastern, Asian or Hispanic descent. Early detection and treatment of sickle cell can prevent many complications and lead to longer, healthier lives. Dartmouth mother Winnell Jackson, whose eight-year-old son Kynan has sickle-cell anemia, said this is good news for Nova Scotia families. “Newborn screening for sickle-cell disease will save families some of the angst and worry that parents experience when their child is ill and they are not quite sure what is wrong,” said Ms. Jackson. “With newborn screening, families know from day one what they are dealing with and this early diagnosis will make a huge difference helping children live healthier and longer lives.” The province is also funding the screening for cystic fibrosis, a common genetic disorder affecting Canadian children and adults. An early diagnosis and intervention for the associated respiratory and nutritional needs of patients can have a significant impact and can help those affected lead longer, healthier lives. Paul Nurse of Sackville, whose daughter Carys was diagnosed at 18 months, welcomed the news. “This will give children a better chance from the start,” said Mr. Nurse. “An early diagnosis could avoid early damage to the lungs, which inevitably can lead to healthier and longer lives. This is what all parents want for their children, the best opportunity for a successful life and future.” The expansion of newborn screening is part of government’s broader initiative to ensure families will have better access to the supports they need to ensure their children get a strong start due to changes and funding announced in this year’s budget.