Newborn Screening Month


Your sweet, snuggly baby has just arrived and you are basking in all their newborn wonder. They look perfect and they are acting like a brand-new baby should – so why undergo the newborn screening when everything seems normal?

“Every child – even those who look perfectly healthy at birth – needs to have the newborn screening,” says Teri Wilde, Nurse Manager for Mother Baby Postpartum at St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

“The screening can detect conditions that are not visible at birth. Many of the illnesses that are included in the screening are rare, but early intervention and sometimes life-saving treatment can begin as soon as possible once we are made aware of the baby’s disease.”

What is a newborn screening?

Newborn screening is a blood test performed as soon as the baby turns 24 hours old. The infant receives a quick stick to their heel and their foot is squeezed, providing blood spots on six designated testing circles on a litmus paper. The paper and the mother and child’s demographic information is then sent out to the state lab for testing.

The screening is mandatory – the Commonwealth of Kentucky has an initiative for all babies to receive the newborn screening when they are 24 hours old, with their test results being sent to the state within 48 to 72 hours. St. Elizabeth Healthcare follows all of the Kentucky Newborn Screening Program Guidelines and performs the screening as close to the 24-hour time frame as possible. A state lab courier picks the labs up each evening from the St. Elizabeth postpartum unit and delivers them to the state lab the next morning, ensuring timely screening test results.

If the newborn’s parents decide to forgo the screening, they will be asked to sign a refusal of treatment that must be faxed to the Kentucky state lab in Frankfort. Our team at St. Elizabeth strongly encourages parents to undergo this important screening.

What does the newborn screening test for?

Newborn screening tests vary from state to state, but all states test for at least 26 disorders. In Kentucky, the screening has been expanded to include 53 disorders, such as:

  • Congenital disorders
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hemoglobin abnormalities like sickle cell
  • Disorders in the metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acid, organic acids, fatty acids and lysosomes.

The Kentucky state lab in Frankfort completes over 50,000 newborn screenings each year. In 2016, 141 of those newborns were diagnosed with a disorder as a result of their screening results. Early detection helps the child’s medical team and family to make treatment decisions to help the child live as healthy of a life as possible.

St. Elizabeth: Your Partner in Newborn Health

At St. Elizabeth, we are committed to providing our newborns and their families with the most comprehensive and preventive healthcare possible. Our newborn screenings also include a hearing screening and congenital heart disease screening done right at the Family Birth Place.

September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month and St. Elizabeth is proud to give each baby the opportunity to have a healthy start with this important screening. To learn more about the newborn screenings or any services offered at the Family Birth Place, please call (859) 301-2229 (BABY).