parents are handed their newborn child in the hospital, they spend the
first hours gazing at their babyís face and counting tiny toes and
fingers. But within 24 hours of birth, newborns undergo some important
screenings to diagnose hidden disorders or conditions not previously
detected in utero.
So what can
parents expect before their newborn is discharged from the hospital?
According to Dr. Eduardo Delgado, a pediatrician with Columbia St.
Maryís, newborn screenings in Wisconsin include hearing and
congenital heart disease tests as well as a blood test that screens
infants for 44 disorders, including 31 that are on the nationally
have newborn screenings that test for rare diseases," says
Delgado. "The number of diseases tested varies from state to
For the blood
screening, a nurse pricks the babyís heel, then collects a few drops
of blood on special test paper, which is sent to the state lab for
testing. The test is used to help diagnose health problems like sickle
cell anemia or congenital
are any abnormalities, the babyís pediatrician is notified, and
parents are consulted about next steps," explains Delgado.
untreated, these hidden conditions or disorders could result in
serious health problems such as developmental delays, slow growth,
brain damage or
the hospital, babies also are screened for hearing. If babies do not
pass their initial screening, they are retested before leaving the
hospital. If they fail a second time, the pediatrician will likely
refer parents to a specialist to determine the scope of hearing
newborn hearing screens became state-mandated, parents and doctors
wouldnít have discovered hearing loss until much later," says
undergo screening for congenital heart disease within the first 24 to
48 hours of life. Hospital staff use a pulse oximeter to measure the
blood oxygen concentration. Low blood oxygen levels may indicate a
serious heart defect or could be a sign of a serious infection or lung
disease. Babies with abnormally low oxygen saturation are referred for
has yet to encounter parents who refused to have their newborn
screened, he says with a growing population of parents who choose not
to immunize, itís not beyond the realm of possibility.
never seen it, but parents may refuse the newborn blood screening for
religious reasons or personal convictions," he says. m