Cross-border newborn screening saves lives of babies in Pomerania region

A cooperation project between clinics in Germany and Poland has led to advances in newborn screenings for metabolic diseases on both sides of the border, bringing potential health benefits to thousands of children every year.

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Dr. Cornelia Müller (project leader, left) and Dr. Theresa Winter (project coordinator, right). Dried blood sample cards of all newborns of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Greifswald are analysed in the newborn screening laboratory in Greifswald. Thanks to the project, cystic fibrosis screening for more than 19 000 German and 30 000 Polish newborns are analysed each year. © Cornelia Müller and Theresa Winter Dr. Cornelia Müller (project leader, left) and Dr. Theresa Winter (project coordinator, right). Dried blood sample cards of all newborns of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Greifswald are analysed in the newborn screening laboratory in Greifswald. Thanks to the project, cystic fibrosis screening for more than 19 000 German and 30 000 Polish newborns are analysed each year. © Cornelia Müller and Theresa Winter

" We are more than happy about the success of our cross-border newborn screening project, having found so many affected children. The early detection, diagnosis and intervention can prevent death or disability and enable children to reach their full potential. "

Dr. rer. nat. Theresa Winter

Congenital metabolic and hormonal diseases can lead to severe impairments and even to the death of affected children, if they are not diagnosed in time. Therefore the screening for these diseases, which is done on their third day of life, is one of the most important medical examinations for newborns. The cross-border newborn screening project considerably improved the offer for screenings in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Zachodniopomorskie.

Exchanging know-how and extending the screening offer

Clinics on both sides of the border can now diagnose more illnesses than previously. The screening centre in Szczecin, Poland, tested for only three metabolic diseases before the start of this project. Now their samples are being partly analysed in Greifswald. In addition, due to the purchase of necessary medical equipment and know-how exchange, the Szczecin screening lab can now detect more diseases. Altogether, Szczecin now scans for 14 diseases.

At the same time, the Greifswald Medical School benefited from Polish knowledge on screenings for cystic fibrosis, one of the most frequent inborn errors of metabolic disease which requires early treatment to improve the quality of life and life expectancy. Thanks to the cross-border project, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has become the first German region to offer free area-wide cystic fibrosis screening, which is not generally part of newborn screening in Germany yet.

So far, more than 30 000 newborns have been examined in Poland, enabling 25 cases of congenital metabolic or hormonal diseases to be detected early. In Germany, three newborns were diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, following 19 000 screenings.

Partnerships for a healthier life

The project encompassed a number of events for doctors and parents. Cross-border meetings of affected families, facilitated by interpreters, led to exchanges of experiences, growing understanding, and encouragement. The parents also received advice and medical expertise from present doctors, dietary experts, and psychologists.

Follow-up projects are planned in order to continue providing this medical service to newborns.


Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Model region POMERANIA for a cross-border newborn screening” is EUR 2 487 112, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) contributing EUR 2 114 053 through the “Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania/Brandenburg – Poland (Zachodniopomorskie)” operational programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.


Draft date

22/05/2015