Common Newborn Screening Tests


Newborn Screeningpic
Newborn Screening

Judith Abraham has served as an obstetrical and gynecological nurse in both Wyoming and Illinois. Most recently interim director of obstetrics at Wyoming’s Thermopolis Hospital, Judith Abraham draws on a detailed knowledge of post-birth procedures.

When a baby is born, many states require that a doctor perform screening tests to check for rare but potentially serious conditions, many of which are not visible at birth. The screening does not diagnose or eliminate the possibility of a condition, but it can indicate whether the baby should undergo further testing.

The screening process usually involves a pulse oximetry to test for blood oxygen, a hearing test, and a blood sample taken with a small heel stick. The blood sample is usually taken when a baby is one to two days old, as certain conditions are not detectable before 24 hours of age.

Screening tests exist for more than 60 conditions but each state has different mandates for how many a baby will receive. In Wyoming, for example, the state requires screening for 51 conditions, while Illinois screens for 63. Thanks to this process, more than 5,000 babies per year are identified as having a disorder that is highly treatable, but can lead to severe health problems or death if not diagnosed before symptoms appear.