Oct 14, 2016

What’s Involved in a Newborn Screening Process

In the wake of Newborn Screening Awareness Month, there’s no better time to talk about the importance of infant screenings and what they test for, as well as prepare for some of the questions you’re likely to be asked by your students.

Common questions about newborn screenings

Expectant parents and new parents often have several uncertainties about newborn screenings, so sharing your knowledge about what to expect as part of these exams can go a long way to putting parents’ minds at ease. Here are a few of the most common questions you’re likely to be asked along with appropriate responses to have on hand for a quick reference.

What’s involved in newborn screening?

The three parts of a newborn screening include a blood test, hearing evaluation and heart screening.

Will the newborn screening blood test hurt our baby?

The pricking on the heel that occurs for the blood test can cause brief discomfort, but it heals quickly and doesn’t leave a scar. To make the experience more comfortable for you and the baby, you can nurse/feed the baby before and/or after the procedure and hold the baby during the procedure, making sure he’s warm and comfortable.

What if our newborn’s screening results aren’t normal?

In the rare cases when test results don’t come back normal, it doesn’t mean the baby has a condition. It simply indicates that diagnostic testing is required to determine whether a health problem is present.

If the diagnostic test results are normal, further testing isn’t necessary. However, if the diagnostic test results aren’t normal, it may be advisable to consult a specialist for further evaluation and treatment.

If one of our children has a health condition, will another child have it as well?

There’s a distinct possibility. Since the majority of the health conditions detected by newborn screening are inherited, when one child in a family has a health condition, the chance that a sibling will have the same condition is higher than if no child in the family has the condition.

If you have one child with a health condition and want to have another baby, it’s recommended you speak with your health care provider and/or a genetic counselor to discuss your situation.

Do we need to ask for screening?

In the United States, there isn’t a need to ask for screening since it’s normal hospital procedure to screen every baby, regardless of whether you ask for it and whether you have health insurance.

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