Newborn Screening Tests and Their Significance

Rohan Mathew

Parents place their children’s welfare and health first. Parents of newborns should follow the advice of their doctors to keep their children safe and healthy. There are some health conditions that may not be apparent at birth, but they become prominent later.

A medical procedure called newborn screening can identify rare and serious health issues in newborn babies. Parents will be notified immediately if symptoms develop.

Identifying hearing issues with newborn screening test Hearing loss is one of the most crippling health issues one can suffer from. And that is why a lot of countries offer hearing screenings as part of the routine assessment of newborns.

Many toddlers receive diagnosis after a year or so of their birth or even later, because their parents don’t know that their child is deaf. Hence, it’s recommended that the screening of a baby’s hearing is done early so that hearing impairment may be diagnosed before 3 months of age. Early testing means it should ideally begin at 6 months.

The development of the brain according to age also depends on a child’s hearing ability. A child with a hearing impairment will not be able to receive the appropriate language stimulation. True, a deaf child who is born to deaf parents won’t receive language stimulation. However, parents can communicate with such children using sign language. But that is not the case when the parents are not deaf.

There are many types of hearing screenings. They generally cause no pain and are not bothersome for babies. They can be done while your baby is asleep and don’t demand the baby’s response. Hearing tests, on the other hand, can be annoying for infants. This is probably due to the use of noisemakers to measure babies’ heart rates and reactions. There are better techniques today, such as auditory brainstem reaction (ABR) or otoacoustic emission (OAE). These screenings are painless and don’t need the baby to respond.

  • Assessing heart health-

Critical congenital cardiac disease (CCHD), a term used for certain serious heart defects, can cause complications later. These conditions require immediate intervention in the first few days or years of a child. These conditions can be mild or severe, but they don’t usually require surgery. Many babies with CCHD may appear and act normal initially but then develop complications over the next few hours or days.

The noninvasive pulse oximetry newborn screening test measures the baby’s blood oxygen levels. It can help identify babies with the risk of developing CCHD early. Infants with CCHD that are detected early are easy to treat and can live healthier lives as grown-ups.

Your baby’s doctor will be notified when the result of the screening is not within normal limits. Before the baby is taken to the home, a further evaluation will be performed. Remember that a screening score outside of the normal range doesn’t necessary ring an alarm bell. To understand your baby’s condition better, follow-up tests may be performed. To diagnose CCHD, your baby’s doctor might recommend additional screenings, including a full clinical assessment, EKG (electrocardiogram), ECHO (echocardiogram), and chest X-rays.

  • Test for a mysterious disease-

This screening usually takes place within the initial 24 hours of your baby’s life. This is because many mothers and babies go home in a matter of hours. In these cases, experts suggest that another test is done two weeks later.

The sample of blood will then be tested for possible metabolic, hormonal, and genetic disorders.

Once the laboratory has provided results, your baby’s primary caregiver or paediatrician will be notified. Screenings may be different from country to country. Have a talk with your baby’s physician if you have questions about the different screenings.

What should be your role as a parent?

Don’t panic if your baby is “abnormal” and/or positive for a particular disorder. Listen to the provider. Ask questions. Keep a record. Follow the directions given. You may need to modify your caregiving routine, such as feeding the baby more often, using a special formula, or changing the way you bathe.

Specialized testing is needed to confirm the existence of a particular disease or impairment. Be proactive. Make sure to get the contact information and names of all specialists you meet. Ask all possible questions to satiate your curiosity. If you are unable to receive the answers within the time promised, contact your baby’s paediatrician or primary care provider.

Ask your doctor if you think that future children may be at risk if your baby has been diagnosed with a congenital condition. Talk to your doctor if you have any other children not tested for this disorder.

Also, ask your doctor about the routine tests that are offered in your region for newborn screenings. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about your child’s health and if there is a history of an inherited condition.

Why is a newborn screening test so important? 

It is a vital and preventive step that must be taken for infants. Babies with potentially severe health issues look normal in the beginning. Parents should have their babies screened at birth to ensure that they are aware of any potential health issues. It is possible to prevent life-threatening conditions and aid in their normal development by getting prompt treatment.