EDMONTON -- University of Alberta researchers are part of new study to help improve detection of disease in newborns through urine samples.

Results from a recent study that saw researchers examine the urine from 48 healthy, full-term babies could help healthcare practitioners more accurately diagnose disease and illness in sick infants.

Researchers at the U of A and the Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas in Mexico, examined the chemical composition of the urine in the first hours after birth. They concluded that the urine can be used to diagnose conditions like genetic diseases, birth-trauma effects, and metabolic disorders in newborns.

“The challenge is that we do not have reference points for healthy ranges of these chemicals in urine for newborn babies,” explained David Wishart in a media release.

A professor in the U of A's Department of Biological Sciences, Department of Computing Science, and Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Wishart added, “as a result, it's hard for doctors or clinical chemists to determine if a newborn is really sick or their chemical concentrations in urine or blood are normal.”