OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Four days after baby Theo was born, new mom Bridgette Staub got a terrifying call.
The baby’s doctor told her Theo’s newborn screening had produced a positive screening for a fatal condition.
“It’s so rare, so I felt like, if we [were] getting this positive [result], it’s got to be real,” said Bridgette.
Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, or SCID is often also socially known as “Bubble Boy Syndrome”.
The often fatal condition stops the body from fighting off infection.
Making things worse, Bridgette and her husband had tested positive for COVID shortly before Theo was born.
“The pediatric immunologist that we were able to speak to said, ‘mom, dad, do not go near your baby until we know the results of this [new screening].” She added.
“And, thinking about how I could have killed my own baby with COVID made it even worse,” she continued.
For more than a week after that, and afraid of spreading their illness, the parents had to wait to meet their baby.
But then, the results of the second screening came back.
“It was a week later and they came back and they [lab officials] were like, I’m sorry. It was a false positive; [Theo] does not have SCID.”
This is the fourth family that KFOR has spoken to about issues with newborn screenings and false positives.
In July, KFOR went to the state’s public health lab in person for a tour of the facility, also sitting down with Commissioner Keith Reed, who said that switching to new state of the art equipment could help explain changes in abnormal results.
“We’ve relocated our lab and we’ve got new state of the art equipment,” said Commissioner Reed.“So, anytime you have different equipment, you may have different sensitivities within that equipment.”
KFOR reached out to the State Health Department Monday and received a similar response.
“The PHL works diligently to make sure newborn screens are processed and reported out in a timely manner. The lab is outfitted with state of the art equipment to do these critical screenings, but with new equipment and new test kits the level at which each condition is considered to be out-of-range must be reviewed and adjusted periodically. That ongoing process is delicate and must be done with precision to ensure that we do not miss a child.
“Due to several factors, the lab could ask for a baby to be retested, where a new blood sample is collected and sent to the PHL. The time for a provider to receive results from the retest is dependent on who drew the sample and how it was sent to the lab. Once the sample is at the lab, staff is able to run it through the newborn screening process and report the result back to the provider.”Oklahoma State Department of Health
“That’s not a good enough explanation for me,” said Bridgette. “We lost that time with our baby [and] I didn’t get to bond with my baby for that first week of his life,” she added. “Those are things you don’t get back.”