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    Victory for Florida’s babies as Governor Scott signs budget into law

    Two top March of Dimes legislative priorities – the Florida Birth Defects Registry and adding Severe Combined Immunodeficiency to newborn screening - were included.

    Tallahassee, Florida, April 17, 2012 —

    Victory for Florida babies! Today Governor Scott signed the budget into law. Due to the overwhelming advocacy by volunteers this year, two of our top legislative priorities – the Florida Birth Defects Registry and adding Severe Combined Immunodeficiency to newborn screening - were included.

    March of Dimes advocated for the restoration of funding to the Florida Birth Defects Registry (FBDR). Over the past four years funding has been continuously reduced down to $97k. This is a program that goes straight to the March of Dimes mission. Housed at the Department of Health, the program tracks all birth defects for babies born in Florida and plays a vital role in preventing birth defects by analyzing and disseminating information about the occurrence of birth defects. I am happy to report that through our advocacy efforts, the FBDR was funded at a record high of $450k.

    March of Dimes advocated for the expansion of Florida’s Newborn Screening program to include Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID). SCID, also known as “Bubble Boy Disease,” is a term that describes a group of rare inherited disorders characterized by defects in two critical immune system cells that are normally mobilized by the body to combat infections. Without treatment, infants with SCID are more susceptible to and can develop recurrent infections, leading to failure to thrive and oftentimes death. In 2010 the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services added SCID to the Recommended Uniform Screening Panel, and in 2011 the Florida Genetics and Newborn Screening Advisory Council recommended that Florida adopt the screening as well. Last year the Governor included the funding for this program on his VETO list, but this year, due to our advocacy, I am happy to report that the program received the full $1,875,000 in funding to get the screening started in Florida.

    The March of Dimes continues to lead the fight against premature birth and serious threats to infant health by funding research and programs that benefit every baby born; and encourage Floridians to join the March of Dimes efforts in support of research, educational programs and community services throughout the State to work together for stronger, healthier babies.

    For more information or to join our advocacy network contact Melissa Joiner.

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