Newborn Metabolic Screening
The State of Maryland and the Office of Children and Youth with Specific Health Care Needs are dedicated to screening newborn infants for conditions that can cause serious illness, developmental delays, and even death if not detected in the first few weeks of life.
In 1965, Newborn Metabolic Screening using dried blood spots was started to determine if babies have a condition called Phenylketonuria or PKU for short. PKU is a metabolic disorder that causes major developmental delays if too much protein is eaten. Since 1965, over 250 babies in Maryland have been identified with a form of PKU.
Although the Newborn Metabolic Screen is still commonly called the “PKU” test, the testing has been expanded to include over 60 different conditions. These conditions include:
Inability to break down the sugar in breast milk and most formulas
Inability to break down different proteins
Inability to break down different fats for energy
Inability to fight infections (severe combined immunodeficiency disorders)
Presence of abnormal red blood cells or sickle cell disease
Abnormal thyroid function (congenital hypothyroidism)
Abnormal adrenal glands (congenital adrenal hyperplasia)
Oner additional condition was recently added to the Maryland Newborn Screening Panel:
- X-linked Adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD or ALD)- Screening began in December 2023
- Condition in which very long chain fatty acids cannot be broken down. These fats build up in the body and primarily affect the nervous system and adrenal glands. X-linked conditions affect males more severely, but women carriers can suffer symptoms in adulthood.
The goal of newborn metabolic screening is to identify babies who may have one of these conditions as soon as possible to help prevent problems. Babies who are born and live in the State of Maryland are screened in the hospital 24-48 hours after birth and again in their pediatrician’s office at about 2 weeks of age.
To learn more about newborn metabolic screening, click on the links below.
Newborn Screening Legislation
Office of Children and Youth with Specific Health Care Needs
201 West Preston Street - Baltimore, MD 21201
Tel (410) 767-6730 Fax (410) 333-5047