Newborn screenings are tests that check for diseases or disorders in newborn babies. Most tests are done before your baby leaves the hospital.
Newborn screenings can catch conditions early, when they may be easier to treat. With a simple blood test, doctors can tell whether or not your baby has certain diseases or disorders.
Talk about newborn screening with your doctor or midwife before your baby is born. This can help you make sure your baby grows up healthy.
What tests will my baby need?
Most states require newborn screening. But the number and types of tests are different in each state. Depending on your family health history, you may want to ask for extra tests.
Here are some conditions that can be found early with newborn screening tests.
The thyroid is a gland in the neck that makes hormones. It’s important to find and treat thyroid disorder early to prevent problems with growth and development.
Babies with PKU can’t process certain foods and must be fed special formula. PKU can cause intellectual disability (mental skills that are below average) if it’s not treated early.
Sickle cell disease
Sickle cell disease is a serious blood disorder. It can be watched and treated if it’s found early.
Finding out early if your baby has hearing loss can prevent problems with speech and language. If your hospital doesn’t test for hearing loss, make sure to have your baby’s hearing checked within the first month.
How are the tests done?
Most newborn screening tests use a few drops of blood taken from the heel of your baby’s foot. The same sample of blood can be used to test for many different diseases. These tests don’t cause any harm or risk to your baby.
A hearing test uses a small microphone or earphone to check how your baby responds to sounds.
For more information, check out these frequently asked questions about newborn screening.