- Recently strengthened its lead-poisoning-prevention program; it now tests all the state's 1- to 2-year-olds who live or spend more than 10 hours weekly in a house built before 1950 or one built before 1978 that was remodeled in the last six months
- Is one of eight states that ban smoking in all restaurants
- Doubles the state's childcare tax credit if a child attends an accredited facility
Maine is one of nine states that require all the newborn screenings recommended by the March of Dimes. Shortly after birth, the state's babies receive a hearing exam plus a heel prick to test for nine rare but life-threatening conditions, such as sickle cell anemia (an inherited blood disease) and medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (a metabolic disorder that can cause sudden death in infancy). In addition, the state is in the midst of a pilot program to check for 12 additional illnesses. Some states, by contrast, screen for just three conditions.
"Every year, our program identifies dozens of infants who have hearing loss and 10 to 15 newborns who are suffering from life-threatening illnesses," says Ellie Mulcahy, director of the genetics program at the Maine Department of Human Services in Augusta. "By diagnosing these conditions within days of birth, we can start treatment immediately and hopefully save lives."