Montana Health News

Oct 4, 2013 12:35 PM by Judy Slate - MTN News

Early detection screening saves Belgrade toddler

BOZEMAN - Imagine giving birth to healthy baby, only to learn your newborn suffers from a rare disorder.

It's devastating - and exactly what happened to one Belgrade family. But as Judy Slate reports, early detection can be a life-saver.

Two-year-old Peyton Erhart appears to be a healthy toddler.

"[It was a] normal pregnancy, normal delivery, [but] three days later the doctor called and said 'you need to come back'," said Shelley Erhart, Peyton's mother, explaining the call that changed everything.

Right after the birth of Peyton - like all babies born in Montana, a few drops of blood were drawn and screened for a variety of disorders. Peyton's test caught one.

"It's called VLCAD," said Shelley.

It's a rare condition affects about one in 60,000 births. It affects Peyton's ability to break down certain fatty acids, necessary for energy.

Now if Peyton gets sick or her body gets too stressed, it starts to break down major muscles, including her heart.

"It was scary at first no one knew," said Shelley.

Luckily, her condition can be managed with a special low-fat diet. "Lots of pasta, lots of potatoes, lots of sugar," Shelley told us.

Back in 2008, Montana expanded the diseases it screens for, adding VLCAD to the list.

"Most likely if she was born before that, it was a very good chance she would have died," said Shelley.

Instead, Peyton's future is bright. Montana currently tests for 28 disorders in its newborn screening program. Newborns are also given a hearing test before they are sent home.

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