Newborn Screening Program

Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Laboratory Renovation Project 
View the latest information on the Laboratory Renovation Project

Texas Now Screening for Spinal Muscular Atrophy

The Newborn Screening (NBS) Program began screening for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) on June 1, 2021. SMA is a rare neuromuscular disorder that results in the loss of motor neurons and progressive muscle wasting. SMA is among the leading genetic causes of death in infants and toddlers.

 Information about the disorder can be found in the attachments and links below: 

Newborn Hearing Screening Rules Update

Texas Health and Safety Code, Title 2, Health, Subtitle B, Health Programs, Chapter 47 – This statute focuses on hearing loss in newborns and mandates screening procedures to identify hearing impairments early in infants to facilitate timely intervention. This chapter outlines the legal requirements and provisions related to newborn hearing screening in the state. 

Texas Administrative Code, Title 25, Part 1, Chapter 37, Subchapter S, – These rules outline the purpose of the newborn hearing screening process mandated by DSHS. This provides more detailed regulations and administrative procedures for implementing the mandates set forth in Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 47. It outlines the specific protocols, guidelines, and processes that the DSHS must follow in administering newborn hearing screening programs, including details on screening protocols, reporting requirements, and referral processes. 

The newborn hearing screening process goal, in accordance with Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 47, is that all babies born in Texas undergo hearing screening to detect and address any suspected or diagnosed hearing impairment promptly. It emphasizes the importance of early intervention and referrals to appropriate services for infants identified as deaf or hard of hearing. 

Read about a few babies whose lives were saved because of newborn screening. 

"Nurse holding a newborn baby"Review Newborn Screening Proper Procedures and Helpful Tips

Each step in the process of completing and submitting the blood spot card (or collection kit) can be critical to a baby's life.

Newborn screening blood specimen collection video (5 minutes) – Demonstrates the proper procedure for collecting a newborn screen blood specimen. It also provides a few collection tips and shows some things to avoid. 

Newborn screening follow-up video (4 minutes) –  Guides medical providers on how they can help after an abnormal screening result is received. It reviews the primary steps taken by newborn screening follow-up staff. Because some babies can have a medical crisis, it is important to notify families and medical personnel as soon as possible.  

Collection kit completion video (5 minutes) – Shows how to properly complete each section of the blood spot collection kit. Incorrect or missing information can cause delays, specimen rejection, or incorrect evaluation of test results. 

Collection kit submission video (5 minutes) – Reviews the process for preparing and shipping specimens to the state laboratory. Timely submission of the blood spot kit is as important as completing the kit correctly and obtaining a good quality specimen.  

More Than Drops on a Card video (5 minutes) – Features two Texas families who share their stories of the importance of collecting timely, good quality specimens.

 Free Educational Materials 

The Newborn Screening Program provides educational materials at no cost. Brochures and other publications are available in English and Spanish for healthcare providers, parents, and medical staff. To view and order free publications related to:

You also can call (512) 776-3957 to order publications.

Cytomegalovirus: A Common Cause of Hearing Loss in Children

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common viral infection. Most people have been infected with CMV by the time they are adults. If the CMV infection occurs for the first-time during pregnancy, especially early in pregnancy, the developing fetus may have birth defects including being deaf or hard of hearing. Read more about CMV.

The 88th Texas Legislature, Regular Session, 2023, passed House Bill 2478. This bill added new newborn hearing screening requirements to Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 47

Newborn hearing screening programs (programs) now must test babies for Congenital Cytomegalovirus (cCMV) if they do not pass the initial newborn hearing screen. Not all programs can perform cCMV tests. As such, it is expected the birthing facilities will perform these tests or refer to another provider for testing. The newborn’s parents or guardians can decline the test. 

Programs are not required to enter tests results into the Texas Early Hearing Detection and Intervention management information system. Also, these changes do not impact follow-up or outpatient hearing screens. 

Impacts to Newborn Hearing Screening Programs and Birthing Facilities 

Current newborn hearing screening policies, requirements, and practices remain the same. DSHS may ask programs for their testing procedures during program certification and renewal. This will show programs are following the cCMV testing requirements.

DSHS does not plan to develop formal provider guidance on the new cCMV testing requirements. Programs and birthing facilities should work together to coordinate cCMV testing procedures. Procedures should include the process for programs to notify the birthing facility a baby needs cCMV testing. We encourage the provider community to find and share best practices. 

Newborn Screening for Critical Congenital Heart Disease in Texas

Since 2014, babies in Texas have been able to get life-saving screening for Critical Congenital Heart Diseases. These diseases can be catastrophic if not caught in time. Most of the diseases are due to defects in how a baby’s heart is formed in utero and affect how well a baby can get oxygen from their lungs to the rest of the body. Learn more about CCHD including viewing the CCHD reporting form and frequently asked questions. The CCHD toolkit provides educational information on screening for CCHD.

Newborn Screening: In-Person and Webinar Training

The NBS Program offers in-person and live webinar trainings. These educational trainings are designed to provide general information on the NBS Program, genetic disorders screened in Texas, specimen collection, the importance of early detection and treatment, and resources available to assist health care providers participating in newborn screening. 

  • In-person training is generally for audiences of 15 or more. Email to schedule in-person training for your organization.
  • Webinar training is for small to mid-size groups. The online presentation allows participants to view documents and applications electronically from any computer. During the webinar, participants can ask questions. Email to schedule a webinar training for your organization.