September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month
Four million babies are born in the United States every year. While most babies are healthy, some are born with serious but treatable medical conditions. Babies with these conditions often appear healthy at birth. Newborn screenings help to identify these disorders early.
New York State’s Newborn Screening Program covers more than 40 conditions. The screening uses only a few drops of blood from the baby’s heel to test for sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, Krabbe disease, and many other disorders. Early detection and diagnosis of these disorders leads to early treatment and better health outcomes. In addition, a hearing exam is performed to identify any congenital hearing loss and a non-invasive pulse oximetry screening is conducted to identify critical congential heart defects.
Newborn screening results are not a diagnosis, but they let health care providers and parents know that more testing is needed. It’s important to note that most babies will not have any of these disorders, but the goal of screening is to help babies and families affected by these conditions. If your baby’s test does come back positive, your doctor will help you set up further testing and determine the best course of action.
All babies born in the United States receive this screening. In New York, parents who refuse screening due to a religious objection need to confirm so in writing.
Common questions about newborn screening:
When does my baby need to be screened?
Newborns are screened before leaving the hospital – usually between 24 and 48 hours after birth.
Will newborn screening hurt my baby?
Your baby may feel slight discomfort during the heel stick. Holding your newborn during the procedure helps both moms and newborns to feel more comfortable.
What does newborn screening cost?
The screening costs nothing out-of-pocket. If your insurance does not cover the cost of screening, or you do not have health insurance, New York state will cover the cost.
How do I receive the results of my baby’s screening test?
The results of your screening test should be relayed to your physician, who will discuss them with you. You should share your baby’s screening results with your pediatrician, and save all results in your records.
For any questions related to newborn screening, please consult your physician.