What is newborn screening?

Newborn screening is a process where infants are screened shortly after birth for a list of conditions that are treatable, but not clinically evident in the newborn period. Newborn screening can prevent hundreds of thousands of instances of physical and mental disabilities and even deaths. Play the video to find out what you need to know about newborn screening

Screening is quick and easy, a simple heel prick is all that’s needed for testing

More than 30 conditions are known to have good outcomes when detected and diagnosed early

Newborn screening for rare diseases is of economic significance as well. Long-term savings gained by screening are of such significance that the healthcare investments needed are very easily justified


Unfortunately, only about 1 in 3 babies receive screening of any type and many babies are only screened for one or two conditions

Over 55,000 more newborns could be saved globally from death or life-altering ailments each year if proper screening tests and treatment were in place


What is the state of NBS programs in different parts of the world?

Things parents need to know about newborn screening

  • Screening is quick and easy
  • Screening tests are performed on dried blood that is collected on filter paper when the newborn is two to five days old
  • If the screening results are normal, as they are in most cases, no further procedures are needed and parents won't be contacted
  • If the screening results indicate the possibility of a rare disorder, the family will be contacted without delay so that further procedures can be initiated. A new blood sample to confirm the initial test result is taken from the baby immediately as well, and the newborn is referred for diagnostic testing and/or examination by a specialist

Why should your child receive newborn screening?

Because the diseases in question are rare, the probability of your child actually being affected by one of them is rather small. However, consider this: on average, for every day of every year, its newborn screening tests find and allow treatment of 65 babies that would otherwise have developed severe diseases. As a result of the newborn screening all of these individual children are permitted to move forward to a normal healthy childhood. Without the screening, many of the 65 would have died in infancy, most of the remainder would have lived with physical sickness and would have spent the whole of their lives in a wheelchair; it is unlikely that any of the 65 children would ever have been able to enter regular school. There are 65 such children, every day, every year, somewhere.

What is newborn screening -a guide for parents.

Download the newborn screening guide for parents

Guide for parents

How do I find out more?

Your doctor or the staff of your antenatal clinic will be able to tell you more about newborn screening and the options available to you. There are also a number of national and international organizations that are keen to help spread newborn screening in the world by sharing knowledge.

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