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Expanded programmes of newborn screening permit early diagnosis in time to prevent serious complications. These programmes have begun to detect patients who might otherwise remain asymptomatic. An additional confounding variable is the positive screen that results from maternal rather than neonatal disease. This was the case in an infant in whom elevated hydroxyisovalerylcarnitine (C(5)OH) in his newborn screen was the result of placental transfer from his mother, whose holocarboxylase synthetase deficiency was being successfully treated with biotin. The mother had been diagnosed and treated with biotin prenatally. She had no phenotypic feature of holocarboxylase synthetase deficiency, most importantly no episodes ever of acute metabolic acidosis. In the infant a repeat screen was also positive. On day 28 the infant's plasma C(5)OH carnitine was 0.05 mumol/L (normal) and urinary organic acids on day 39 were normal. The mother's excretion of 3-hydroxyisovaleric acid was 109 mmol/mol creatinine. These observations indicate that holocarboxylase synthetase deficiency is one more maternal metabolic disease which may lead to a positive screen in her unaffected newborn infant. They also make the point that holocarboxylase synthetase deficiency in an infant should be detectable in programmes of neonatal screening, which was not clear previously.


W L Nyhan, M Willis, B A Barshop, J Gangoiti. Positive newborn screen in the biochemically normal infant of a mother with treated holocarboxylase synthetase deficiency. Journal of inherited metabolic disease. 2009 Dec;32 Suppl 1:S79-82

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PMID: 19357990

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