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Newborn Screening

By Natasha F. Bonhomme

Newborn Screening

Have you heard about newborn screening? It’s one of the most important screening tests for your baby that you probably haven’t heard of—until now.

Every year, nearly 12,000 newborns that appear healthy are found to have a condition only detectable through newborn screening. 


Your baby’s first test

Between 24 and 48 hours after birth, your baby’s nurse will do a series of screening tests. These screens include a heel prick, where blood is taken from your baby’s heel, a hearing screen, and in some states, a heart screen often referred to as “pulse-ox.”

These screenings are designed to pick up a range of different health issues before they lead to long term complications or even death. When found early, babies with these different conditions can receive early treatment and can lead normal lives.


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What do the results mean?

As with any health screening, it’s important to understand the results. A negative results means everything is fine—the outcomes are in the normal range.

The other option is an “out-of-range” or positive result. These results mean your baby’s healthcare provider needs to explore what may be causing this outcome. An out-of -range result doesn’t mean your baby has a condition.

There are a number of reasons why a result maybe out-of-range on the first screen but later on test normal, including whether your baby had eaten enough before the screen.

If you get a phone call or letter saying your baby needs to be retested don’t panic but act quickly. The screening process picks up any baby who might be at risk for a condition. Follow-up testing is needed to determine if your baby actually has a disease. It’s very important to follow up with your baby’s healthcare provider to be sure your baby is healthy.


Where do I get my baby’s newborn screening results?

Whether your baby’s results were in-range or out-of-range your baby’s healthcare provider should tell you the results by your 2-week or 1-month well-baby visit. Even if your baby’s newborn screening results are normal if you have any concerns about your child’s health please tell your care provider.


What Newborn Screens are Conducted in My State?

For more information on what conditions states screen for and questions to ask your healthcare provider go to www.babysfirsttest.org.


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Natasha F. Bonhomme is Project Director at Baby’s First Test.

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