Newborn Screening Information for Providers:
Prenatal Education

Pregnant woman

On this page:
Introduction
Newborn Screening Discussion Points


Introduction

Many parents are unaware that newborn screening happens during the busy first days following the birth of their child. Prenatal educators and providers are in a unique position to educate parents about newborn screening before labor and delivery, allowing them time to understand the newborn screening process and their options. Studies have shown that parents prefer to learn about newborn screening during the prenatal period rather than after delivery. The importance of educating parents about newborn screening prenatally is recognized and encouraged by multiple professional associations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and the March of Dimes.

Minnesota's newborn screening law (Minnesota Statute 144.125) requires the Newborn Screening Program to make information and materials available to aid prenatal care providers in educating expectant parents about newborn screening.

Prenatal folder coverResponsibilities of prenatal care providers:

  • Talk with expectant parents using the Newborn Screening for Prenatal Providers folder as a guide.
  • Give expectant parents a Newborn Screening for Parents-to-be handout.
  • Address any questions or concerns expectant parents may have and refer them to the Newborn Screening Program website for further information.

The above materials are available to order free-of-charge on the Education Materials and Forms page.


Newborn Screening Discussion Points

What expectant parents need to know:

  • When a baby is 24-48 hours old, the birth facility will take a few drops of blood from the baby's heel and send it to MDH to screen for over 50 treatable disorders. These disorders are difficult to detect clinically; without newborn screening, affected newborns may not be diagnosed until damage has already been done.
  • When a baby is at least 12 hours old, the birth facility will arrange for the baby's hearing to be screened. A child with hearing loss – even a mild loss – may have difficulty with speech and language development. Hearing loss cannot be easily detected by parents or providers without hearing screening and follow-up testing.
  • When a baby is at least a day old, the birth facility will arrange screening for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD). Babies with CCHD appear healthy at birth but are at risk for serious, life-threatening complications. If CCHD is detected early, treatments are often available that can help affected newborns lead longer, healthier lives.
  • If a baby has a positive newborn screen, the baby's primary provider will arrange for further testing and evaluation.
  • Parents can obtain their baby's newborns screening results from their baby's primary provider or birth provider.
  • Blood spots and test results are destroyed following the mandated retention period unless parents choose to consent to extended storage and use.
  • Parents have the option to decline screening or arrange for blood spot screening through a private laboratory. If parents choose this option, they must complete the Parental Refusal of Newborn Screening form, available to download from the Education Materials and Forms page.