Memorial Hermann - A New Beginning

Newborn Screenings

Newborn screenings are done shortly after birth to test for medical conditions that are treatable, but not seen.


How the Test is Done

Metabolic screening tests for developmental, genetic, and metabolic disorders in a newborn. If identified early, many of these rare conditions can be treated before they cause serious health problems. Each state requires screening, but the specific test done may vary. Some disorders are more common in some states, making these screenings even more important. Of every 1,000 babies born, it’s estimated that 1 to 3 will have serious hearing loss. It’s now standard practice to conduct hearing screening for newborns. If hearing loss is not caught early on, the hearing center in your baby’s brain won’t get enough stimulation. This can delay speech and other development in your newborn. PULSE OXIMETRY SCREENING FOR HEART DISEASE Pulse oximetry is a simple, painless test that measures how much oxygen is in your baby’s blood. It’s done when your baby is more than 24 hours old. It’s useful in screening for some congenital heart diseases in newborns. HEARING SCREENING

A few drops of blood are taken from your baby’s heel. This is usually done on the day of discharge or no later than 2 to 3 days after birth. The sample is then sent to the lab for testing. Make sure the hospital and your baby’s health care provider have your contact information so you can be notified of the results. This test is painless and is performed in the hospital using a tiny earphone, microphone, or both. There are 2 types of hearing screening, otoacoustic (OAE) and auditory brainstem response (ABR). Testing takes about 10 minutes and is all done while your baby is sleeping. How the Test is Done Sensors are placed on the baby’s hand and foot with a sticky strip and a small red light or probe. These sensors measure the baby’s oxygen level and pulse rate. The test takes a few minutes to perform while the baby is still, quiet, and warm. Jaundice is typically resolved with treatment. There are 2 types of treatment for jaundice. Phototherapy involves placing your baby under a special light wearing only a diaper and eye protection. Another treatment involves placing a fiberoptic blanket under your baby. Sometimes, the light and blanket are used together. How the Test is Done Treatment


Jaundice is common in newborn babies, giving their skin and the whites of their eyes a yellow color. It’s commonly caused by a buildup of a substance called bilirubin in the baby’s blood and skin. Testing is painless and involves simply placing a light meter on the baby’s skin. If the bilirubin level is high, a blood test may be done.

Call your health care provider immediately if your baby:

• Is very yellow • Is hard to wake up • Is very fussy or has a high-pitched cry

• Is not feeding 8 or more times in 24 hours • Does not make enough wet diapers or diapers with stool (see page 41)


Your Guide to Postpartum and Newborn Care

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