September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month

Holding a newborn baby is one of the most heart-warming experiences for a parent. Even though babies appear flawless and act perfectly healthy, there is a risk of a potentially life-threatening health condition. This is why screening newborns with a baby test is extremely important. The Plano obstetricians at Women’s Specialists of Plano are here to share the importance of these tests with parents living in the Plano, Frisco and Dallas, Texas communities during Newborn Screening Awareness Month.

What is Newborn Screening?

A newborn screening test is designed to check for rare, but serious, conditions in babies just after they are born. The state of Texas, as well as all other states in the country, requires specific baby tests to be performed even if the newborn appears perfectly healthy.

Newborn screening tests typically involve a “heel stick” (the baby’s heel is pricked) and small drops of blood are placed onto a card, as well as a simple hearing test and congenital heart defect test. The blood sample is usually taken shortly after the baby is born, commonly within 24-48 hours. The state of Texas also requires a second baby test at about 1-2 weeks of age since some signs of a serious health condition are not visible immediately at birth.

The blood sample is usually sent off to a state public health lab for analysis, and then the test results are sent back to the obstetrician. If there is any cause for concern, a physician will contact the parents immediately.

What Does a Baby Test Detect?

Texas law requires that all newborns are tested for certain genetic disorders and potentially serious health conditions. By finding these disorders early through a baby test, obstetricians are able to treat the condition immediately to help prevent growth or development delays, a serious sickness or even death.

Newborn screening in Texas currently includes 31 core and 24 secondary conditions. Secondary conditions are believed to be clinically significant, but some conditions may have an unclear history or lack appropriate medical therapy according to the state. Women’s Specialists of Plano will discuss all baby test requirements in great detail with each new parent.

In general, newborn screening includes:

  • Blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia
  • Metabolic disorders that destroy a baby’s ability to process and break down certain fats and proteins
  • Endocrine disorders such as congenital hypothyroidism
  • Other disorders such as cystic fibrosis, galactosemia and severe combined immunodeficiency

All parents should not be concerned about any discomfort during a baby test. The blood test portion requires only one small prick on the baby’s heel. The hearing test requires a small, soft earphone and the congenital heart defect test requires tiny sensors to be placed on the baby’s skin for only a few minutes. In many cases, the newborn sleeps right through the screenings.

If you live in the Plano, Frisco and Dallas, Texas area and would like to learn more about a baby test, contact the Plano obstetricians at Women’s Specialists of Plano during Newborn Screening Awareness Month.