do you know what your baby is screened for at birth?

“Newborn Screening” is a general term applied to the tests your baby typically gets at birth. But do you know what the screening includes? I believe I first heard about them when I was pregnant with Ryan, but it took some research to really learn what the testing included and what Ryan would be screened for.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when parents submit their child to testings or screenings with no idea what they’re for or what their child is getting. But I understand that sometimes the information can either be hard to find or really confusing to process.

That’s where Baby’s First Test comes in. This website is fairly new and I wish it had been around years ago! That’s why I’m excited to share it with you now–all my mamas and soon-to-be mamas out there.

Baby’s First Test is THE newborn screening education center. There’s a load of valuable information there, including: facts about newborn screening and what to expect, state-specific programs, information on different conditions (including causes and treatments), and an active blog with ongoing information.

There are three main tests for newborns:

  1. Blood test (heel stick): commonly known as the “PKU” because that’s the original metabolic disorder that was tested for in the 60s, but since then, more than 60 disorders have been added to the list for testing. The specific disorders tested for do vary by state.
  2. Hearing screening: 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.
  3. Pulse oximetry (pulse ox): measures how much oxygen is in the blood. It’s non-invasive, fast, and super easy. That clip put on your finger while you’re in the hospital? Same thing. But on a newborn, it usually goes on the foot. A low oxygen level can suggest a possible CHD (congenital heart defect).

WHY are these screenings important? Simple: they save lives. Every year, over 5000 babies are born with one of the conditions in the screening panels.

Serious complications can be caught early for treatment and prevention. These tests are usually done while you’re still in the hospital, 24-48 hours after birth. Testing before 24 hours can miss some conditions and waiting past 48 hours can result in a life-threatening delay in providing care to an infant that has a condition.

Do you need to ASK for newborn screenings? Usually, no. They’re routinely done at the hospital, but as I said–it varies by state. In IL where I live, pulse ox is NOT routinely done and I DID have to ask for it.

What if the baby is born at home? Well, I have a unique perspective on this because Ryan was born in a hospital and Rebecca was born at home so I’ve gone through it both ways. Please watch for my upcoming post on the process of having Rebecca screened after our homebirth!

In the  meantime, PLEASE educate yourself, send to your friends, share the knowledge–read through Baby’s First Test. It’s a wealth of information and will answer all of your questions! If you forward the site to friends, post on your social media pages, or write an awesome blog post, let me know! It will make my day 🙂 Baby’s First Test is super friendly, too, so if you have questions, just ask! Find them on twitter and facebook!

~ Disclosure: I am a Baby’s First Test Blogger Ambassador and am supported by the Baby’s First Test project. Baby’s First Test is funded through a cooperative agreement with the Health Resource and Service Administration (HRSA), Grant no. U36MC16509, Quality Assessment of the Newborn Screening System.

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