What is Newborn Screening?
Newborn screening are tests done on your baby before your baby leaves the hospital. These screening tests check for serious conditions in your baby.A baby born with one of these conditions may not show any symptoms right away. However, the baby usually develops serious problems if he or she is not treated. Newborn screening helps to diagnose these babies early so that treatment can begin as soon as possible.
How is newborn screening done?
There are three different parts to newborn screening which is being done in our hospital.
- Heel Stick:
When a baby is between 24-48 hours old, a few drops of blood is taken from the baby’s heel. This is called a heel stick. The blood is usually placed on a small card. The card is sent to a laboratory where it is screened for different metabolic and genetic conditions.
- Pulse Oximetry:
After a baby is at least 24 hours old, a small sensor is placed on the baby’s skin. This sensor is called a pulse oximeter. It does not hurt the baby and is painless. The pulse oximeter measures how much oxygen is in the baby’s blood. Babies who do not have enough oxygen in their blood could have a type of heart problem called Critical Congenital Heart Defects.
- Hearing Screen:
Hearing screening can be done any time after a baby is about 24 hours old. There are two different ways that the hearing screen can be done. Both measure how well the baby responds to sound, and both are quick and painless. Most of the time, the hearing screen can even be done while the baby is sleeping.
Why newborn screening is important?
Newborn screening helps us find babies who have certain serious medical conditions so that we can begin treatment right away. In most cases, these babies look normal and healthy at birth. They usually do not begin showing symptoms until a few weeks or months later. Newborn screening helps to diagnose these babies before they start showing symptoms. By starting treatment early, serious problems like illness, intellectual disabilities, or death can often be prevented.
What happens if my baby does not pass his newborn screen?
It is important to remember that newborn screening is just a screening test. If your baby does not pass their newborn screen, or has an abnormal newborn screening result, it DOES NOT mean they have the condition. It just means that more testing must be done.
Newborn screening only finds babies who MIGHT have a condition. More testing will be done to figure out if these babies really have the condition.