Portugal: More babies born so far in 2022 after 2021 lowest ever figures
About 62,000 babies have been born in Portugal this year, an increase that follows the drop in 2021, when the lowest figure ever was recorded, according to data from the National Programme for Early Diagnosis (PNDP)
According to data from the “heel prick” test, which covers almost all births, between January and September 2022, 62,001 newborns were screened under the National Programme for Neonatal Screening (PNRN), 3,037 more than in the same period in 2021 (58,964).
The data provided to Lusa news agency by the National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge (INSA) confirm the reversal of the downward trend seen last year.
September was the month that registered the highest number of births (7,979), followed by August (7,862) and March (7,097), while April was the month with the fewest births (5,950), followed by February (6,049) and January (6,482).
Lisbon was the district with the most tests performed (18,440), followed by Porto (11,386), Setúbal (4,754), Braga (4,717), Aveiro (3,036) and Faro (3,024).
The lowest number of tests was observed in the district of Bragança (436), followed by Guarda (469), Portalegre (446), Vila Real (425) and Castelo Branco (725), according to the programme coordinated by INSA, through its Neonatal Screening, Metabolism and Genetics Unit, of the Human Genetics Department.
Throughout 2021, 79,217 newborns were studied, 6,239 less than in 2020 (85,456), the lowest figure ever.
Before this low recorded in 2021, the lowest number had been seen in 2014, with 83,100 examinations carried out in the country.
According to data from the PNRN reports, consulted by Lusa on the ‘site’ of INSA, the number of babies studied, between 1984 and 2008, always exceeded 100,000, with the highest record in 2000 (118,577).
The “heel prick” is performed from the third day of life of the newborn, through the collection of a few drops of blood from the child’s foot, and currently allows the detection of 27 diseases, enabling early intervention and a healthier development of children.
The National Health Institute Doctor Ricardo Jorge confirmed to Lusa news agency that the technical conditions are in place for the pilot study for the screening of Spinal Muscular Atrophy to begin later this month.
“The inclusion of this pathology in the panel of diseases screened under the National Neonatal Screening Programme will only be formalised after completion of the pilot study of 100,000 newborns, evaluation of the results obtained and authorisation from the Ministry of Health,” the institute stressed.
The “heel prick” allows the identification of children suffering from diseases, almost always genetic, such as phenylketonuria or congenital hypothyroidism, which may benefit from early treatment.