neonatal screening test

Top Questions on Neonatal Screening | Newborn Screening Test | Child’s First Test

Baby Care

What is Newborn Neonatal Screening Test and How is it Done

Your countdown to pregnancy is over and you delivered a baby, Congratulations. After the birth, within 24 to 48 hours, your doctor will recommend going for neonatal screening test or newborn screening test or heel prick test. This will be your child’s first test hence first-time parents have all sorts of questions on what are these tests, what do they cover and are they important? Let’s discuss all about newborn screening test in this article.

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Newborn Screening Test

Soon after the birth, usually, within 24 to 48 hours, doctors recommend going for newborn screening test or heel pick test to screen the newborn for various rare disorders. This is not a compulsory test but is beneficial as it helps in early detection of rare medical conditions. Before the heel prick test is performed, your doctor will provide details of the procedure including sample collection process, results, disorder covered etc and obtain your consent.


Why is it Important to do a Neonatal Screening Test?

The neonatal screening test is important because the rare disorders for which the newborn is tested for, show no visible signs at birth. Getting screening done gives an edge to doctors as they can detect a condition early and corresponding treatment for it can start before it becomes serious and harmful. Although most babies are not detected with any of the tested conditions still small numbers are, so parents should go for the neonatal screening test within 24 to 48 hours of the childbirth, as some of the rare conditions for which this test is done show only after 24 hours of birth.

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How is the Neonatal Screening Test Done?

After you provide your consent, the doctor will make preparation for the neonatal screening test. This is a simple blood test wherein your baby will be pricked on the heel and the blood drops are put on a special filter paper. The filter paper will then be allowed to dry and sent to screening laboratory.

Since this is your child’s first test, your baby may feel uncomfortable and cry during the process so you should cuddle your baby and feed after the test is done.


What will my Baby be Screened for?

The newborn screening test will cover the below following rare medical conditions: –


  • Congenital Hypothyroidism (CHT) – One in 3,500 babies are affected by this condition. Once detected, thyroid hormones can easily be corrected to lead to a normal development.
  • Phenylketonuria (PKU) – About one is 10,000 babies are said to suffer from PKU wherein baby’s body is not able to use phenylalanine and thus it gets accumulated in the blood and can lead to brain damage.
  • CysticFfibrosis (CF) – One in every 2,500 babies is detected with cystic fibrosis. In this condition, the mucus produced in the lungs and intestines is thicker than what it normally should thus result in infections in lungs and food digestion difficulties in the intestine.
  • Galactosaemia – This is an extremely rare medical disorder which is said to affect one in 40,000 babies. In the disorder, galactose (a type of sugar found in milk) gets accumulated in the blood making the baby sick and in some cases, can result in death. With proper treatment and galactose free milk, this rare condition can be treated.
  • Rare Metabolism Disorder – The blood test is used to test various metabolism disorders and with early detection and proper treatment these can be corrected.
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When will I Get the Results for my Child’s Screening Test?

You will be asked to collect the report after 10 days of sample collection. In some cases, if the results are not clear, the baby may be required to undergo blood test again. If your baby is found positive with any of the above rare medical conditions then you will be asked to undergo appropriate treatment by the doctor


What if my Baby is Detected with a Disorder?

Although it is unlikely that your baby will be detected with one of the rare conditions, however, if detected, then isn’t it better to know about it as soon as possible so that treatment for it can start early and severe consequences can be avoided.

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