We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Newborn Screening?

By M. DePietro
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Newborn screening is the process of performing a series of tests on newborn babies to check for certain medical conditions. In the United States, many states have mandatory newborn screening which a hospital must offer parents. There are twenty-nine metabolic and genetic disorders which the March of Dimes recommends testing for at birth. However, not all states test for all twenty-nine disorders. Individual states have their own polices and laws regarding what tests a hospital must offer as part of their newborn screening program.

Although parents have the right to refuse mandatory newborn screening on the basis of religious reasons, almost all physicians and child health advocates recommend that newborns are screened. Several of the diseases which are screened for are metabolic or genetic disorders. If the illnesses are detected early, many of the problems associated with them can be prevented. Early detection can also allow treatment to begin right from the start, which can be lifesaving.

Most tests are done within the first twenty-four hours after birth. Newborn screening involves taking a blood sample, usually from the baby’s heel, and sending it to a specific lab that does newborn testing and analysis. The time it takes to get the results back can vary, however most results are back within a few days to a week. If the results come back positive for a specific disorder, additional precise testing is usually needed to confirm a diagnosis.

Although testing varies by state, all fifty states test for Phenylketonuria (PKU). An essential amino acid is not utilized properly in babies with this metabolic disorder. This can lead to abnormal development, including neurological problems and mental retardation. Babies with this disorder need to be on a special diet from the start to avoid developing the complications.

One of the other conditions screened for in all fifty states is congenital hyperthyroidism. This disorder can cause mental retardation because the baby's thyroid gland does not function efficiently. If the screening is done at birth, hormones can be taken which allow the thyroid to work normally. This can allow the baby to have normal development.

Other genetic and metabolic conditions which are screened for in some states, include cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia. Many states also provide a hearing test for newborns. Parents who want to find out what screening is done in their state can view the database on the National Newborn Screening and Genetic Resource Center website.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.