minnesota newborn screening program
Health Care Providers
Newborn screening is an important, life-saving part of health maintenance for all infants. Whether your primary role is in family medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, nursing, the laboratory or neonatology, you play an important part in newborn screening.
Before a newborn infant is discharged, hospital staff collect drops of the baby’s blood on a newborn screening card. This collection should take place between 24 and 48 hours after birth. The hospital staff send the newborn screening card to the Minnesota Department of Health where a number of tests are conducted to detect more than 50 disorders. Almost every day, the Minnesota Newborn Screening Program identifies a baby who can benefit from early treatment and intervention. The Minnesota Department of Health mails newborn screening results to the birth hospital. The hospital should forward the results to the infant’s primary care provider.
Before a newborn infant is discharged, hospital staff conduct newborn hearing screening and send hearing results to MDH. Newborn hearing screening should be conducted after the infant is at least 12 hours old using either Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR) or Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) technology. More information on newborn hearing screening can be found on the hearing screening page. The hospital should forward the hearing results to MDH and the infant's primary care provider.
Prenatal care providers should inform expectant parents about newborn screening. Studies have shown that parents prefer learning about newborn screening during the prenatal period, since it can be difficult to learn about newborn screening in the midst of all the activities following labor and delivery. Prenatal care providers are in a unique position to inform parents about this safe and easy way to ensure a healthy start for their babies.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recognizes the importance of prenatal education for newborn screening. ACOG committee opinion number 393 on newborn screening states that prenatal care providers can continue to improve the health of their patients by informing parents-to-be of newborn screening.
Primary care providers have critical roles in following up abnormal results and ensuring that all babies in their practices have documented newborn screening results. A good time to review newborn screening results with an infant’s family is during their first well-child visit. Results of both the metabolic and hearing newborn screen should be reviewed with parents. If results have not been forwarded from the infant’s birth hospital, contact the hospital or the Newborn Screening Program. REMEMBER: NO NEWS IS NOT ALWAYS GOOD NEWS – NEVER ASSUME THE NEWBORN SCREEN WAS NORMAL.
A special section of this website is devoted to issues affecting the screening of infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs).