A Paper-Based Test for Screening Newborns for Sickle Cell Disease


The high cost, complexity and reliance on electricity, specialized equipment and supplies associated with conventional diagnostic methods limit the scope and sustainability of newborn screening for sickle cell disease (SCD) in sub-Saharan Africa and other resource-limited areas worldwide. Here we describe the development of a simple, low-cost, rapid, equipment- and electricity-free paper-based test capable of detecting sickle hemoglobin (HbS) in newborn blood samples with a limit of detection of 2% HbS. We validated this newborn paper-based test in a cohort of 159 newborns at an obstetric hospital in Cabinda, Angola. Newborn screening results using the paper-based test were compared to conventional isoelectric focusing (IEF). The test detected the presence of HbS with 81.8% sensitivity and 83.3% specificity, and identified SCD newborns with 100.0% sensitivity and 70.7% specificity. The use of the paper-based test in a two-stage newborn screening process could have excluded about 70% of all newborns from expensive confirmatory testing by IEF, without missing any of the SCD newborns in the studied cohort. This study demonstrates the potential utility of the newborn paper-based test for reducing the overall cost of screening newborns for SCD and thus increasing the practicality of universal newborn SCD screening programs in resource-limited settings.



diagnosis, sickle cell disease


Copyright 2017 Scientific Reports. Recommended citation: Piety, Nathaniel Z., Alex George, Sonia Serrano, Maria R. Lanzi, Palka R. Patel, Maria P. Noli, Silvina Kahan et al. "A paper-based test for screening newborns for sickle cell disease." Scientific reports 7 (2017): 45488. DOI: 10.1038/srep45488 URL: https://www.nature.com/articles/srep45488.pdf Reproduced in accordance with the original publisher’s licensing terms and with permission from the author(s).