What Tests Will Your Newborn Have To Go Through
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What screening tests are currently done on newborns? - Valerie in McGregor, Texas
The Physician Answers:
Newborn screening is the process of doing various blood tests on infants after the first 24 hours of life, but within the first several days. The blood work is done in order to look for potentially dangerous conditions in the newborn. We need to wait 24 hours after birth because some tests may show normal when they are really abnormal, but simply haven't yet shown up in the newborn's blood. If these conditions are found at birth, the child in question will be prevented from having diasterous consequences.
One example is testing newborns for galactosemia. This is the inability to breakdown sugars within milk -- 1 in 40,000 babies tested do have this syndrome. Such a child can die or become retarded should they be given milk in regular amounts. By screening for this condition at birth, one can avoid these potentially hazardous consequences by changing the diet of the child.
Other testing that is commonly done, but not limited by this list, includes phenylketonuria, biotinidase deficiency, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, congenital hypothyroidism, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell diseases (in African American descent), thalassemia (in Mediterranean descent), maple syrup urine disease and hemoglobinopathy (diseases of the red blood cells).
It would be much too exhaustive for the reader to have me explain each of these diseases, however, any physician offering newborn care would be able to go into detail regarding each of these conditions. Being that you live in Texas,chances are that your state-mandated testing will be different than ours in Illinois. Each state has its own regulatory system for what it deems necessary for newborn screening and even within each state it may change as needs change. You can contact your own State Laboratory for a current listing.
Lastly, as a parent, its nice to know that,despite all the information gotten,the blood is drawn from a small prick in the infant's heel -- not needles in the arm!
Dr Jane Forester