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Screening Tests for Newborns

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Not everyone in this age group may need screening for every condition listed here. Click on the links above to read more about each condition and to determine if screening may be appropriate for you or your family member. You should discuss screening options with your health care practitioner.


In the United States, routine evaluation of a newborn includes a number of laboratory tests. These tests are valuable because they have the potential to identify diseases and disorders before symptoms appear and before serious complications arise. Early detection allows treatment that may prevent development of serious health problems.

Congenital and genetic disorders
Various conditions that may be present at birth (congenital) can affect the health and wellness of a newborn. Most of these conditions are rare, though some are more prevalent in certain families or ethnic groups. Disorders range from difficulties a newborn may have processing certain nutrients (metabolic) to problems with hormones (endocrine) to the production of abnormal forms of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. Some of these conditions cannot be cured, but many can be managed so that the child can grow and live a relatively normal life.

Newborns can be routinely screened for many of these disorders before leaving the hospital using a few drops of blood. Each state has its own newborn screening program, so the number of tests performed varies by state.

Infectious diseases
Typically, newborns are tested for infectious diseases only if they show signs and symptoms. Currently, asymptomatic newborns may be screened for two infectious diseases: HIV and hepatitis B. Typically, these screening tests are only performed if it is known that the mother has the disease or if she was not tested during the pregnancy and therefore her disease status is unknown. Some states mandate HIV testing of all newborns. Though the newborns may show no signs or symptoms of infection, they may have contracted the disease during the pregnancy or birth. Treatment can be administered soon after birth to protect the health of the newborn.

In addition to laboratory tests, a number of other evaluations are typically done to ensure the health of newborns. The article Newborn care in the delivery room on the March of Dimes web site discusses some of the procedures that may be included in the first exam of a newborn.

You can also find out more about preventive medicine and the steps you can take to keep you and your family healthy by reading the companion article Wellness and Prevention in an Era of Patient Responsibility.

Links Newborn Screening Tests
MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Newborn screening tests
Baby's First Test: What is Newborn Screening?
CDC: Newborn Screening is Important for Your Baby

General Sources Used in Current Review

2017 review performed by Brittney Donovan, MS, University of Iowa College of Public Health.

Newborn screening tests. KidsHealth. Available online at Accessed April 2017.

(Reviewed 2014 February 21).Newborn screening laboratory bulletin. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available online at Accessed April 2017.

Lee, Kimberly. (Reviewed 2015 April 27). Newborn screening tests. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Available online at Accessed April 2017.

(Reviewed 2015 May 1). Screening facts. Baby's First Tests. Available online at Accessed April 2017.

(Reviewed 2016 February). Newborn screening tests. March of Dimes. Available online at Accessed April 2017.

(Reviewed 2016 February 23). Newborn screening. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available online at Accessed April 2017.