In July I hosted the BlogHer Baby Shower in San Jose, CA, as one of The Baby Ladies (with Christa from Little Us). We partnered with two amazing non-profits, the Save Babies Through Screening Foundation and Baby’s First Test. They both work tirelessly to bring awareness to the life-saving newborn screenings. September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month so I thought I’d share a bit more because… #themoreyouknow!
What is Newborn Screening?
Newborn Screening is a series of simple tests that can detect a variety of disorders in newborns. There’s a hearing test, heel prick blood test (often mistakenly called the “PKU”), and in some states the pulse oximeter.
There are two different types of simple, fast hearing tests that are typically done when your baby is asleep. This is to make sure the brain responds to sound and there are no hearing issues. Most hospitals perform this test, but some (typically small ones) can’t so you might have to drive to another clinic or hospital.
Heel Prick Blood Test
Your baby’s heel will be pricked and a series of small circles on a piece of paper will be saturated with the blood. This is sent off to a lab to be analyzed. One issue with this aspect of newborn screening is that the tests are not processed fast enough–when a baby does have a detectable disorder, the sooner it is discovered, the better. Some states are making improvements in this process.
“Pulse ox” is very easy, fast, inexpensive, and non-invasive. So why many states don’t yet do it routinely? Is beyond me. When both of my kids were born (in the state of IL), I had to ASK and push for it.
Have you ever been admitted at the hospital? You probably had a little clip placed on your finger. It tests the oxygen levels in your blood. This is the pulse ox and for newborns it’s typically something that is attached to their foot instead (as the large clips for fingers don’t work accurately on babies).
You can see specifically what your state tests for HERE at Save Babies Through Screening Foundation.
If you’re giving birth at a hospital, ASK them in advance what you can expect with newborn screening. During your prenatal hospital tour, ask about their policies. Ask about pulse ox.
Giving birth in a birth center or having a homebirth? No worries, you can still have all the access to newborn screenings! Ask your midwife–many can do the screening themselves or they can direct you where to go.
I had a homebirth with #2 and I wrote all about getting newborn screening after a homebirth. We got the hearing test done at a local hospital and I went in to our family practitioner for the heel prick test (later repeated by my midwife) and pulse ox.
Did you know that 1 in 300 babies are born every year with a detectable disorder?
This September, take a moment to learn more about newborn screening and spread the word to another mom. Use Baby’s First Test and the Save Babies Through Screening Foundation as resources–their websites are both FILLED with statistics, information, how to get support, videos, and more.