Newborn Screening Tests: What You Need To Know

Doctors will carry out these tests to find out about various health conditions, such as genetic and metabolic conditions, as well as developmental disorders. While most of these conditions are no doubt rare, diagnosing them in the early stages can provide the right treatment and cure.

Why Newborn Screening Is Important

Most babies look perfectly healthy when they are born. Barring a few specific medical conditions, it can be difficult to diagnose any specific health condition based on just the facial signs and symptoms. Screening your newborn will help in identifying any symptoms that would otherwise have not been detected.

1. Congenital Or Neonatal Hypothyroidism

It is a condition where your baby’s body produces lesser amount of thyroid hormone than is required. It can cause problems with growth as well as intellectual disability.

2. PKU Or Phenylketonuria

It is a very rare and inherited disorder, in which the body is unable to break down an amino acid known as phenylalaline. It also causes disability in intellectual development, abnormally small size of head, very low birth weight and heart defects.

3. Galactosemia

It is an inherited condition in which the body is unable to break down sugar and use it as required. It can lead to problems with feeding, excessive lethargy, weight gain problems (in severe cases it can also lead to life-threatening complications), jaundice, liver damage and failure, as well as bleeding.

4. Haemoglobin Disorders

This is another type of inherited disease that leads to some or the other type of blood disorder. It can cause various types of bacterial infections, organ failure due to lack of oxygen, thalassaemia and more.

Two Ways Of Newborn Screening

Most newborn screenings are done with the help of a hearing test, done before the baby leaves the hospital, and a blood test, done between 24 and 48 hours of birth.

  • The hearing test will involve 2 types of tests. Both are simple and take about 5 to 10 minutes each. The first test is the otoacoustic emissions (OAE) test. It will test how your baby’s ears respond to various sounds. The second test is the auditory brain stem response (ABR) test. It will check the nerve that helps to transfer sound to the brain.
  • For the blood test, the doctor will collect a few drops of blood from your baby’s heel and use it for various tests. 

Click HERE to check the main screening tests that are done for newborns in India.

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