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What Is Newborn Screening? These 3 Tests Are Important For Newborns

Screening tests help to identify which babies need more testing to confirm or rule out illnesses.

What Is Newborn Screening? These 3 Tests Are Important For Newborns

Newborn screening can help do an overall check up on the health of a new born baby

Newborn screening tests help to detect developmental, metabolic, and genetic disorders in a newborn baby. Early detection and diagnosis allow timely treatment and help to prevent or minimise the probable complications. Newborn screening is recommended 48-72 hours after birth. In western countries, newborn screening is mandatory. However, in the Indian population, there is a dire need to create awareness. 

The objective of newborn screening is to detect potentially fatal conditions in newborns as early as possible, usually, before the infant presents with any signs or symptoms of a disease. This helps to commence the treatment immediately, thereby reducing or eliminating the possible consequences of the condition. Many of these conditions, if left untreated, have serious symptoms and effects, such as lifelong nervous system damage; intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities; and even death.

Which are the tests that are performed? 



The various newborn screening tests that are carried out differ from state to state. Some of the common ones are:

The following methods are used while screening newborns:

●    Blood tests - This test is performed using a few blood drops from the heel of a baby, which is then sent to a laboratory for analysis.
●    Hearing test - The doctor carries out this test by placing a small earpiece or microphone in the baby's ear. Another technique uses electrodes put on the baby's head while it is asleep.
●    CCHD screen - This test uses an oximeter to measure the baby's oxygen levels in the hand and foot, which includes a small soft sensor on the baby's skin and attaches to a machine (oximeter) for a few minutes.

How does Newborn Screening help?

Screening tests help to identify which babies need more testing to confirm or rule out illnesses. Upon confirming a particular condition after follow-up testing, the doctor can begin treatment before symptoms appear.

Blood screening tests help to screen for conditions such as phenylketonuria (PKU), congenital hypothyroidism (absent or underdeveloped thyroid gland since birth), sickle cell disease, and maple syrup urine disease. If not treated in time, these conditions can result in brain damage, intellectual disabilities, behavioral symptoms, or seizures.

Content By: Dr. Akash Shah, Consultant Pathologist, Neuberg Supratech Reference Laboratories


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