Consensus guidelines for newborn screening, diagnosis and treatment of infantile Krabbe disease

Jennifer M. Kwon*, Dietrich Matern, Joanne Kurtzberg, Lawrence Wrabetz, Michael H. Gelb, David A. Wenger, Can Ficicioglu, Amy T. Waldman, Barbara K. Burton, Patrick V. Hopkins, Joseph J. Orsini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Background: Krabbe disease is a rare neurodegenerative genetic disorder caused by deficiency of galactocerebrosidase. Patients with the infantile form of Krabbe disease can be treated at a presymptomatic stage with human stem cell transplantation which improves survival and clinical outcomes. However, without a family history, most cases of infantile Krabbe disease present after onset of symptoms and are ineligible for transplantation. In 2006, New York began screening newborns for Krabbe disease to identify presymptomatic cases. To ensure that those identified with infantile disease received timely treatment, New York public health and medical systems took steps to accurately diagnose and rapidly refer infants for human stem cell transplantation within the first few weeks of life. After 11 years of active screening in New York and the introduction of Krabbe disease newborn screening in other states, new information has been gained which can inform the design of newborn screening programs to improve infantile Krabbe disease outcomes. Findings: Recent information relevant to Krabbe disease screening, diagnosis, and treatment were assessed by a diverse group of public health, medical, and advocacy professionals. Outcomes after newborn screening may improve if treatment for infantile disease is initiated before 30 days of life. Newer laboratory screening and diagnostic tools can improve the speed and specificity of diagnosis and help facilitate this early referral. Given the rarity of Krabbe disease, most recommendations were based on case series or expert opinion. Conclusion: This report updates recommendations for Krabbe disease newborn screening to improve the timeliness of diagnosis and treatment of infantile Krabbe disease. In the United States, several states have begun or are considering Krabbe disease newborn screening. These recommendations can guide public health laboratories on methodologies for screening and inform clinicians about the need to promptly diagnose and treat infantile Krabbe disease. The timing of the initial referral after newborn screening, the speed of diagnostic confirmation of infantile disease, and the transplantation center's experience and ability to rapidly respond to a suspected patient with newly diagnosed infantile Krabbe disease are critical for optimal outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number30
JournalOrphanet journal of rare diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • Confirmatory testing
  • Galactocerebrosidase
  • Guidelines
  • Human stem cell transplantation
  • Infantile Krabbe disease
  • Krabbe disease
  • Lysosomal storage disorder
  • Newborn screening
  • Psychosine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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