If you are about to have a newborn or already have one, you worry about their health. Hence, the newborn refers to babies of 2 months and below. Most babies are healthy. However, they could have unknown conditions. Such conditions do not show up right after birth. It may appear in puberty or later in life. The families may also do not have a history of a certain health problem.
Doctors do newborn screening on babies to see if there are health problems. Also, this test occurs before babies leave the hospital. But they cannot force anyone to let their babies undergo the tests. Still, hospitals offer this test due to the lifelong benefits it can give.
Facts about newborn screening that you must know are:
1. Can Tell Specific Health Problems
This test may screen up to 50 diseases. Some can be serious health problems. It may identify rare disorders. Such conditions may lead to brain damage or death.
Baby tests can tell if a baby has hearing loss, heart problems, or genetic conditions. The test does not confirm the condition. If results come out positive, doctors will inform parents right after. Also, a follow-up testing is next.
2. Early Detection and Treatment
Most babies who had a positive screening grow up healthy if treated early.
3. It Needs a Blood Sample
Aside from getting the blood sample, they will do other baby tests. The three parts to newborn screening are:
- Heel stick. This part is when doctors will prick the baby’s heel. Upon pricking, they will get a blood sample for the test. They collect the blood in a special filter paper. Afterward, they will let the paper dry and take it into a lab.
- Pulse oximetry. This test will measure the level of oxygen in the blood. It does not give off the pain. Also, it checks how the oxygen goes to body parts like arms, legs, and heart.
- Hearing screen. By doing this test, doctors can know if the baby is deaf or has hearing problems. However, without this test, it will be hard to know such conditions after the 1st month and years. Babies learn most through hearing and listening. They may turn their heads to the place where they heard a sound. Still, it does not mean that their hearing is well.
The results may be available within 1 to 2 weeks.
4. Heel Prick
Many parents worry about the heel prick. It may give discomfort to the baby, but it will heal fast. Additionally, it will leave no scar behind.
5. Comfort the Baby
Studies show that the baby is less likely to cry if a mother or nurse comforts the baby. Try making these suggestions to make it easier for your baby.
- Nurse and feed the baby. Do it before and after the procedure.
- Hold the baby during the heel prick.
- Check if your baby is warm. Also, see to it that he or she is at ease to undergo the test.
6. Timing of Test
Doctors do the baby test on 24 to 48-hour old babies. Hence, the timing is important upon doing this test. However, some conditions could go undetected if the test occurred outside the said time.
7. Religious Belief
Moreover, parents may refuse the baby test for religious reasons. However, if the test conflicts with your religious beliefs and practices, the hospital will not force you to do so.
8. Repeat Test
For some, they will repeat the neonatal screening. Repetition happens due to a few reasons.
- It may happen if the baby does not have enough blood to undergo the test.
- The first test did not give a clear result.
- The baby is born premature and received blood transfusions.
- Intravenous feeding of the baby before breastmilk or baby formula.
9. False Positive
There may be false-positive results. Also, this test is not 100% accurate. There may also be false-negative results. Remember that newborn screening is not a diagnostic test.
If you have a newborn, it may be hard to decide what test to give your child. Other countries mandate newborn screening while others don’t. However, do not hesitate to ask doctors if you have specific questions. Above all, it is better to identify and treat health conditions early.