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Newborn screening catches serious, but treatable, GAMT disease for the first time

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah – Utah is one of only three states that require newborn screening for the neurological disorder Guanidinoacetate methyltransferase, or GAMT. One family is grateful after their son became the first baby to test positive for the disease in the state. 

GAMT happens when the body does not make enough creatine. That means sufferers can have intellectual disabilities, muscular problems, and seizures. It can also make speech difficult.   

The good news is that if the disease is caught early, it is treatable. 

Stew and Becky Tribe did not plan on having his son Woodward born in Utah. Because of the GAMT newborn screening requirement, he is glad he was. 

“That fact that he was born here, and that Utah is one of the only states that screens for GAMT…the stars aligned perfectly,” Tribe told KSL-TV. 

Becky Tribe is also relieved. 

“With treatment, he should be able to live a pretty normal life,” Becky Tribe said. 

Utah requires GAMT screening in large part because of Heidi Wallis, a mother of two children with the disorder. 

Her oldest child was not diagnosed until she was five-years-old and deals with significant speech and physical challenges to this day. 

The disease was detected in Wallis’s younger child much earlier and, with medication, he is living a normal life. 

Wallis would like all states to do GAMT screening. 

“The instrument needed for this test and the sample needed for this test is already happening in every state,” Wallis said. “They just need to add this one value and look for GAMT.”

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