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Newborn Screening – What You Should Know

Doctor Checking Baby

Becoming a parent gives great excitement, especially when you’re beholding your baby for the first time. However, there are more than 25 rare conditions that affect newborn babies, and that could be life-threatening. That’s where the need for “newborn screening” is very important.

What is newborn screening?

Newborn screening is a method of testing all newborns within three days of birth to identify certain conditions and disorders that may distort their normal development. This testing is needed in every state and is usually performed before the infant vacates the hospital.

Why newborn screening is important

Newborn screening assists in detecting rare conditions. In case these conditions are quickly identified, treatment can commence early too.

In most cases, prompt treatment can reduce or prevent the effects of these conditions, which are sometimes life-threatening.

In Australia, screening of newborns covers 24 conditions. The most common ones are:

  • congenital hypothyroidism (CH)
  • amino acid disorders such as phenylketonuria (PKU)
  • cystic fibrosis (CF)
  • fatty acid metabolism issues and disorders
  • organic acid disorders

How is a newborn screening test done?

When a baby is between the age of 12 and 49 hours, a nurse or midwife takes a little amount of blood from hisor her heel and then places it on a clean, special paper.

The blood is then transferred to a state-approved lab where it is properly screened over eighty (80) metabolic and genetic disorders which could lead to physical and severe intellectual disabilities.

The newborn’s parent gets a pink copy of the screening test request form and their midwife will follow-up with the screening results to keep them informed if further testing is necessary.

What kind of disorders does the newborn screening test search for?

A newborn screening test identifies several types of disorders. According to the Texas Department of Public Health, 2 out of every 400 babies tested will test positive for one of these disorders.

  • endocrine Disorders
  • metabolic disorders
  • cystic fibrosis
  • immune disorders
  • hemoglobin Disorders

These disorders transform the way blood transports oxygen within your body and can typically lead to infection, anemia, and affect other organs.

When is it necessary to repeat a newborn screening test?

Some newborns need to have their screening tests repeated. In case this occurs with your child, it does not necessarily mean your child has an abnormal test result.

A newborn screening test usually needs to be repeated in case:

  • there isn’t sufficient blood for performing the screening test
  • your baby’s first screening did not provide a vivid result.
  • your baby was born prematurely and got donor blood transfusions
  • your baby was prematurely born and fed intravenously before starting the normal breastmilk feeding-formula

Your midwife or hospital will contact you in case your newborn needs to undergo the newborn screening again. It is essential to do that as soon as possible.

Newborn screening results

Results are typically available about three weeks after the test has been successfully done then they are sent to your doctor or midwife.

Literally, all newborns have normal results. Typically you will be told about the test results of your baby only if there is a problem.

However, it is essential to take your newborn for this second round of screening without any delay. The quicker your newborn’s condition is diagnosed, the quicker he/she can start treatment.

Final Remark

The importance of a newborn screening test cannot be overemphasized. It is something you should consider to ensure your baby grows healthily and happily.