Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Navigate Up
Sign In

MPHL : nbs-whatis

What is Newborn Screening

All babies born in Maryland are screened for over 50 different serious medical disorders. Most babies are born healthy. However, some babies are born with rare problems that may cause them to get sick in the first few days of life or that may cause problems as the baby gets a little older. The Newborn Screen looks for several conditions that can occur because a baby is not able to break down their food correctly. It also looks for problems with some of the body’s hormones (chemicals made by the body that can affect how a person grows and develops). It also identifies babies who have certain kinds of blood disorders, and other types of inherited conditions

A few drops of blood are collected from the baby’s heel and put on a special filter paper. This paper is then sent to the Maryland State Health Department’s Newborn Screening Laboratory where the tests are performed. Please be aware that this is only a screening test and identifies babies that are “at risk” for potential problems. If your baby is identified as “at risk”, it does not mean your baby has the condition. It means your baby needs further testing to see if he or she has the condition.

Each baby in Maryland should get two Newborn Screens. The first screen should be collected at the hospital after your baby has been eating for at least 24 hours and the second should be collected at the doctor’s office or clinic after your baby is 7 days old. The second screen is used to identify conditions that may not have shown up on the initial screen.

If there is a potential problem with your baby’s Newborn Screen results, the results are reported to the newborn screening follow-up staff, a specially trained team of health care providers. A member of the follow-up staff will contact your baby’s doctor. If they cannot identify your baby’s doctor, the follow-up staff will try to call you directly to find out this information.

All of the disorders on the Newborn Screen test panel are selected because there is some type of treatment available that can help to either prevent symptoms caused by the medical condition, or that can help to make the symptoms less severe. The goal of newborn screening is to identify babies while they are still healthy and to get them early treatment to help prevent them from getting sick. Remember, most babies look healthy even if they have one of these conditions and most babies with these conditions do not have a family history of genetic problems.