Skip to main content

7 Facts about Infant Screening Tests

Learn seven facts about infant screening tests from pediatrician Dyan Hes, M.D. in this Howcast video about newborn and baby development.


All babies born in the United States will have a newborn screening test done after 24 hours of life. This is often known as a heel stick in the nursery. Babies have a heel stick, and the blood test is sent to each state's laboratories. The confusion lies in the fact that every state runs different tests. So some states will call the newborn screening test the PKU test, which is checking for phenylketonuria, which is an inborn error of metabolism.

Most states check between 30 to 50 inborn errors of metabolism. They also check for thyroid disease and HIV. If a newborn screening test is abnormal, parents will be contacted as well as the hospital where the baby was born. It is very important if you get a call that your child had an abnormal newborn screening test that you contact your pediatrician right away.

Oftentimes, the test just needs to be repeated, and this does not mean that your baby is sick. Remember, it's just a screener. If the second screening test is abnormal, your child will be referred to a center, whether it be a hemotology center, and endocrinology center, or a metabolic center. Your pediatrician will guide you through this.

Newborn screens are done so if the doctor found out that something was abnormal with your baby, if we can make an intervention within the first three months of life, most harm to the child will be prevented, whether it be a change in the dietary nutrition or a medicine needs to be provided or a hormone needs to be given.

So make sure you follow up with your doctor at the one month visit to get the results of your child's newborn screen.

Popular Categories