What is Newborn Screening?

​All babies born in Maryland are screened for over 60 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 special paper. This paper is then sent in to the Maryland Health Department where the lab looks to see if there are any potential problems.
Each baby in Maryland should get two newborn screens. The first screen should be collected at the hospital when your baby is just over 24 hours old and the second should be collected at the baby’s doctor’s office (usually when the baby is around 2 weeks old).
It there is a potential problem with your baby’s newborn screen results, the lab will attempt to contact your baby’s doctor. If they cannot reach your baby’s doctor, the lab may call you directly to find out which doctor is seeing your baby.
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 medial 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 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.