Screening For Baby
Newborn screening consists of an assortment of screening tests performed just after birth. This screening is required by U.S. state law and is done on all babies regardless of whether they are healthy or not. The tests check for specific diseases and conditions.
Many of the conditions doctors hope to diagnose early have no visible signs at this stage. Finding these conditions right away may make a critical difference in your baby's well-being. Soon after the delivery, the staff will check your baby's hearing and evaluate a blood sample that is taken from the baby's heel. The blood sample is a handy tool that can diagnose many disorders at once.
The very vast majority of babies will be found to be in tip-top shape. It is estimated that only a tenth of 1% of all babies screened are diagnosed as having a disease or condition. Even if the initial screening yields abnormal results, it's likely your baby is healthy. This kind of testing only gives a very preliminary evaluation that clues doctors in on whether more rigorous, more precise diagnostic testing is required. Only further testing will tell whether your baby really has a health issue.
If the birth took place in the hospital, the hospital staff will ensure that your baby has his blood drawn for these tests before you are released. The sample will be sent to public health lab that is run by the state. There, the sample will be analyzed and the results sent to the hospital. You will only be notified if the results are a cause for concern. This is a case of: no news is good news.
If your hospital has an early-release program and you and your baby are home within a day of the birth, you may need to return to the hospital within the next two weeks to finish up the screening tests. Some of the tests that are performed for the screening are only done on the second day of life or a bit later. Some states require that the baby be retested at 2 weeks of age as an added precaution.
If you had a home birth, you will need to bring your newborn to an area hospital, a medical clinic, or your local health department during the baby's first three days of life so he can have his blood drawn for these screening tests. It's preferable to have these tests done on the second or third day of life and no later than the baby's seventh day. Call your local health department to get more information about the process of newborn screening after a home birth.
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