Putting babies first
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The State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa and the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication have been honored by Genetic Alliance with a Baby's First Test Challenge Award for the production of a video about newborn screening.
The short video, Putting Babies First, is intended to inform nurses and phlebotomists about proper techniques used to collect blood drops from newborns shortly after birth. From these few drops of blood, public health laboratories—including the State Hygienic Lab—screen for more than 29 different, potentially life-treating conditions.
"One of the primary reasons that Genetic Alliance chose this important project is because of the collaborations that make it possible," says Christopher Atchison, director of the State Hygienic Laboratory. "The School of Journalism and the Hygienic Lab reached out to hospitals across the state to identify questions about the specimen collection and laboratory processes, which we believe can benefit newborn screening programs throughout the country."
Genetic Alliance is a nonprofit health advocacy organization dedicated to transforming health through genetics. This is the second year Genetic Alliance has presented Challenge Awards, which promote the Baby's First Test website and projects that advance newborn screening outreach, engagement and educational efforts. This is the first Challenge Award presented to the UI.
"The State Hygienic Lab is one of the premiere global institutions for advancing a healthy environment and citizenry," said David Perlmutter, Ph.D., director of the UI School of Journalism. "The School of Journalism's innovative research in health communication persuasion is a natural fit for propelling forward this important project."
Through the Health Communications Fellowship, Erin O'Gara, a doctoral candidate in the School of Journalism, teamed with Hygienic Lab staff to gather research for the project. Focus groups consisting of staff from central and eastern Iowa hospitals provided insight about the questions and concerns of nurses and phlebotomists who conduct the heel prick test on newborn infants to collect blood drops.
The UI Marketing and Media Production filmed the blood collection process and interviewed staff in three Iowa hospitals: University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, St. Luke's Health System in Sioux City, and Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines.
Putting Babies First premieres today (May 22) at the Association of Public Health Laboratory's annual meeting in Seattle and is available on the project's Facebook page, at tiny.cc/PuttingBabiesFirst, and on YouTube here.