Newborn Screening Testing: For Your Baby's Health

Why is my baby tested?

  • Newborn screening is one of the most important things done for your new baby’s health.
  • We test all newborns because a few who look healthy have a rare birth defect or disorder.
  • If we find it early, we can help prevent serious problems, such as intellectual disability, illness, or death.

How is my baby tested?

Two screens are required. The tests are done using drops of blood taken from your baby’s heel one to two days after birth in the hospital and again at seven to 14 days in your doctor’s office or clinic. Because it is a screen, some babies may need additional testing to confirm or rule out a potential disease.

But we’ve never had any birth defects in our family...  

  • Many of the babies born with these diseases are from healthy families with no known history of disease.

My baby seems fine. Are the tests still needed?  

  • Yes. Most babies with these disorders look healthy at birth. Many disorders won’t show signs for days, weeks, or months. However, diagnosing these diseases early can improve a baby’s chance to still have a healthy life.
  • If the newborn screen is abnormal, your baby’s doctor will be alerted to do more testing, see a specialist, or start special treatment.

If my baby has one of these disorders, can it be cured?

These conditions are not usually curable, but there has been a lot of research into treatments that decrease bad complications. These babies can still lead healthy lives.

If more testing must be done, does that mean that my baby has a problem?  

  • No. An abnormal newborn screen only shows the need for more testing. It just means your baby needs to be tested again to confirm or rule out a disease.
  • If your baby’s test is unusual for a second time, the doctor may start treating your baby at once and send you to a doctor who specializes in the disorder for more testing. Treatments do not have negative consequences, even while the specialist is trying to confirm or rule out the disease.

What else can I do to help my baby?

  1. Make sure your baby is tested before they leave the hospital. You should be given a form from your baby’s first screen. Take the form and your baby to the doctor or clinic for a second test at their check-up at seven to 14 days of age.
  2. Your doctor may ask you to bring in your baby for more testing. Do it quickly! If your child has a disorder, fast action can be very important.
  3. Be sure to give your correct address and phone number to the hospital or doctor. If you don’t have a phone, leave the number of a friend, relative, or neighbor with the doctor or hospital.
  4. If you move soon after your baby is born, let your doctor know right away. Then, if your child needs to be tested again, your doctor will know where to reach you.

Remember, these steps are very important!

You can download the Newborn Screening: For Your Baby's Health (#1-63) brochure,  or you can order in bulk using the HHSC online ordering system. Please note that you must register with HHSC to use their system.