Shortly after birth, and before you and your baby are discharged from the hospital to return home, she’ll be given a number of screening tests to detect a variety of congenital conditions. These tests are designed to detect problems early in order to treat them promptly, prevent disabilities, and save lives.
There is some variability between states in what tests are offered, but all states examine the infant’s blood for metabolic and genetic conditions and conduct a hearing test. Many states are now requiring pulse-oximetry (measuring the oxygen in the infant’s blood) to look for critical congenital heart disease.
Before Baby is Born
Before your baby is born, talk to your pediatrician about which screening tests your baby will undergo, including their benefits and any risks, and ask if it is necessary for you to consent to this testing.
Ask when you can find out the test results, and what they mean if your newborn is found to be out of the normal range (this may not necessarily mean that your baby actually has a congenital or genetic condition, so inquire about whether and when retesting would be done). Also, double-check to make certain the tests are actually performed before your baby leaves the hospital.