Do You Know What Your Newborn Was Tested For?

Suzanne Murray

newborn screening tests

photo by TiffanyC7

Newborn screening tests are now required in all 50 states (four years ago only about 1 in 3 babies was born in a state that required screening). The tests check for genetic, metabolic, hormonal and functional disorders. Advocates say the tests are important because babies usually don't show any symptoms of these disorders—some of which lead to mental retardation or death—until after the damage is already done.

The March of Dimes estimates that about 4,000 babies with metabolic disorders were discovered by newborn screening in 2004, and another 12,000 were found to have a hearing impairment.

"Any time you can proactively identify a problem and treat it, you can avoid a lot of complications and lifelong consequences," said Dr. Jamie Grifo, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City. "Hopefully, we'll have a national standard on newborn screening that will benefit all children."

As of 2008, about half of all states tested newborns for all 29 conditions recommended by the American College of Medical Genetics (most states test for at least 21). The cost for this screening is about $100 and is covered by most health insurances.

Were you told what screenings your baby had? Do you think it's important that all babies be tested or should it be the choice of the parents? Do you think you should have to pay for tests that are required by law?

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