Why do babies need a newborn screening test?
Although most babies are healthy when they are born, some are born with inherited conditions, such as a metabolic disorder. Even a baby that looks healthy at birth may have a condition like this.
All babies are tested shortly after birth, because each year in Illinois, a few babies are born with a rare disease that does not show signs immediately after birth.
When certain diseases are detected early through newborn screening and therapy started shortly after birth, some health problems can be lessened or avoided. If left untreated, these diseases can cause serious problems like mental retardation or even death.
Every baby born in the United States is required to have a newborn screening test shortly after birth. All women should be informed about this test, especially women who are pregnant, because of the importance of this screening test for early detection of genetic disorders that may affect their baby’s health. In Illinois babies are screened for nearly 40 disorders. More information on the Newborn Screening Program in Illinois can be found at the Baby’s First Test website
This test is done before the baby and mother leave the hospital, by taking a few drops of blood from the baby’s heel when the baby is about 24 hours old. If your baby leaves the hospital before he or she is 24 hours old, you should bring your baby back to the hospital for testing.
The hospital will send the blood sample to the Illinois Department of Public Health newborn screening laboratory for testing.
How do parents get the results of the test?
Parents are notified by their baby’s doctor of the newborn screening test results. If there is a problem, parents may be asked to take their baby to the hospital for another test, or they may be referred to a genetic center.
Make sure your address and telephone number are correct and updated before you leave the hospital, so that you can be easily contacted. Remember, this is very important for your baby’s health.
Ask about your baby’s newborn screening test results when you see your baby’s health professional at the first visit after your baby is born. More information for parents is available at this link
Your baby’s doctor, health professional, or the Illinois Department of Public Health, will contact you if your baby needs to be retested. They will tell you why the baby needs to be retested and what to do.If your baby needs to be retested, get it done immediately.
What if I have questions?
Ask your baby’s health professional if you have any questions or concerns.