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November 1978

Studies in Meconium: An Approach to Screening Tests To Detect Cystic Fibrosis

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, the Children's Hospital Medical Center (Drs Shwachman, Antonowicz, and Mahmoodian and Mr Ishida), and the Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School (Drs Shwachman and Antonowicz), Boston.

Am J Dis Child. 1978;132(11):1112-1114. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1978.02120360068012

• Screening for cystic fibrosis (CF) in newborns is desirable, and efforts should continue in establishing a system of easily available, reliable, simple, and inexpensive tests. In addition to the Boehringer-Mannheim (BM) test for the detection of albumin, we propose the assay for lactase and β-D-fucosidase in meconium. These latter two enzymes are present in the meconium of babies with CF and absent in meconium of most healthy babies. In a mass screening program for CF involving 20,182 specimens of meconium using only the BM strip, we found 46 positive results. Twenty-nine specimens came from infants with CF, six of whom had meconium ileus. Seventeen specimens yielded false-positive results by the BM test. Eleven of these would have been excluded by the addition of the lactase and β-D-fucosidase assay, thus reducing the false-positive test results by nearly 61%. In a comparative study of the three methods, the lactase and β-D-fucosidase yielded 1.2% false-positives when examined independently. Performance of these two assays may allow greater specificity in diagnosis when used in addition to the BM test.

(Am J Dis Child 132:1112-1114, 1978)