image of Alaska

Alaska is the largest of the 50 states and contains approximately 16 percent of the country’s landmass. Because of its size, Alaska has widely diverse geographic, climatic, and demographic characteristics, all of which affect public health.

Alaska contains roughly 586,412 square miles of land, with a population density of slightly more than one person per square mile. Unique climatic conditions affect Alaskans’s health, lifestyles, and transportation. Temperatures can range from as high as 100 degrees F to lows that approach -80 degrees F. Alaska has few roads with only five of Alaska’s urban centers connected by road. In many cases, travel by air is the only feasible mode of transportation.

Some health programs available in Alaska are:

  • Women’s, Children’s and
  • Family Health
  • Newborn Metabolic Screening Program
  • Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program
  • Genetic Clinics
  • Specialty Clinics
  • Birth Defects Registry
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Surveillance Project
  • Oral Health Program

Alaska does not have a university based medical center, cytogenetics laboratory, DNA laboratory, or pediatric clinical geneticist. There is one physician board certified in genetics and maternal-fetal medicine, whose genetics practice is limited to prenatal genetic services. A genetic counselor works with him.

The State of Alaska sponsors the Alaska Metabolic Clinics in Anchorage and Fairbanks. A biochemical geneticist and metabolic nutritionist attend these clinics where patients are seen for diagnosis of inborn errors of metabolism, and management of metabolic disorders. Providence Alaska Medical Center sponsors and coordinates the Alaska Genetics clinics and works closely with genetic counselors. The clinics are held in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau. Newborns to adults 22 years of age are seen for diagnosis and consultation at the Genetics Clinics. Both the State Metabolic Clinics and the Providence Genetic Clinics have contracts with Oregon Health and Science University (in Portland, Oregon) for physicians who are board certified in medical and biochemical genetics. The clinics are coordinated by clinic managers in Anchorage.

For more information about Newborn Screening and Genetic services in Alaska, please contact us.

The project is a cooperative agreement funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Children with Special Health Needs Program, Genetic Services Branch.