Newborn Screenings – Why and How

Dec 10, 2020

During your baby’s first days of life, he or she will undergo several newborn screenings to gain a better understanding of baby’s overall health. Your Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital Harris Women’s Center caregivers can help you best understand how these screenings will be performed.

Your baby will receive a hearing screening before he or she goes home. This screening is painless and takes just 10-20 minutes to complete. At the Harris Women’s Center, an Automated Auditory Brainstem Response test is used to measure how the hearing nerve and brain respond to sound. Clicks or tones are played through soft earphones into the baby's ears.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 7,200 babies are born in the United States every year with critical congenital heart defects. Typically, these types of heart defects lead to low levels of oxygen in a newborn and may be identified during a simple pulse oximetry screening at around 24 hours after birth.

Your baby’s skin will be tested for jaundice with a transcutaneous bilirubin meter to determine if it contains an excess of bilirubin (bil-ih-ROO-bin), a yellow pigment of red blood cells. Most cases of jaundice resolve within the first weeks of life while others may require other types of treatment.

Immediately following baby’s birth, two APGAR scores will be obtained by the healthcare professional at the Harris Women’s Center to check heart rate, muscle tone, and for other signs to see if extra medical care or emergency care is needed. The Score is given at 1 minute after birth, and again at 5 minutes after birth.

A newborn screening is done via a small heel poke to obtain blood to test for many different metabolic disorders. This is performed at 24 hours of age, and the test is sent to the State of Michigan.

Premature newborn babies will be given a car seat tolerance test that also uses a pulse oximeter meter to evaluate oxygenation while baby is sitting upright in a car seat.

These tests ensure all babies are screened for certain serious conditions at birth and can allow doctors to start treatment immediately. To learn more about labor and delivery services at Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital, visit the Harris Women’s Center online here.