Essential oils can cause false-positive results of medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency

Yasuko Mikami-Saito, Masamitsu Maekawa, Yoichi Wada, Tomoe Kanno, Ai Kurihara, Yuko Sato, Toshio Yamamoto, Natsuko Arai-Ichinoi, Shigeo Kure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Newborn screening is a public health care program worldwide to prevent patients from critical illness or conditions. Tandem mass spectrometry allows multiplex, inexpensive, and rapid newborn screening. However, mass spectrometry used for newborn screening to date is not able to separate peaks of compounds with similar m/z, which could lead to false-positive results without additional second-tier tests, such as fragmentation. We experienced three neonatal cases with high levels of markers, octanoylcarnitine and octanoylcarnitine/decanoylcarnitine ratio used to pick up possible cases of medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (MCAD) deficiency. The babies were born consecutively in a maternity hospital. Their second acylcarnitine profiles were normal, and the genetic tests for ACADM were negative. Analysis of samples extracted from their first Guthrie cards where blood was not stained also showed peaks equivalent to octanoylcarnitine and decanoylcarnitine, indicating contamination. Environmental surveillance in the maternity ward suggested that essential oils used there might contain the contaminated compound. LC-HRMS/MS and in silico analysis revealed that false-positive results might be due to contamination with the essential oils in Guthrie cards, and causal agents were sphinganine (d17:0) and 2-[2-hydroxyethyl(pentadecyl)amino]ethanol. Thus, health care providers should be cautioned about use of essential oils when collecting blood samples on Guthrie cards. False-positive results can waste costly social resources and cause a physical and psychological burden for children and parents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100674
JournalMolecular Genetics and Metabolism Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec


  • Decanoylcarnitine
  • Essential oils
  • False-positive
  • MCAD deficiency
  • Newborn screening
  • Octanoylcarnitine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Endocrinology


Dive into the research topics of 'Essential oils can cause false-positive results of medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this