September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month!
As exciting as becoming a new parent is, the preparation can be overwhelming. It’s hard to sift through and process all the advice and information out there for expecting mothers. That’s why Texarkana Emergency Center is using Newborn Screening Awareness Month to educate soon-to-be moms and dads about the importance of infant health screens.
What it is
Newborn screening is a state public health service that screens for specific health conditions in the 4 million babies born in the U.S. each year. Newborns typically get tested on the days following their birth while they’re still at the hospital.
Newborn screening began in the 1960s when a blood test was developed that could detect the presence of phenylketonuria, a metabolic disorder. Since then, scientists have developed tests that screen for more than 60 disorders and conditions.
Newborn screening is made up of three parts:
- Heel Stick: A baby’s heel is pricked to collect a blood sample. It’s best to perform this when the baby is 24-48 hours old, as certain conditions may not show up in their blood until 24 hours after birth.
- Pulse Oximetry: A painless test that measures the level of oxygen in the blood to help detect heart conditions.
- Hearing Test: This test detects the brain’s ability to hear and respond to sounds.
How it’s helpful
The most valuable benefit of newborn screening is that it allows doctors to start treatment as soon as physically possible if a serious health condition is detected. Detecting health issues early in a baby’s life enables families to process the news, become informed, and be proactive.
One of the millions of families who have shared their gratitude for newborn screening are the parents of Tristan Camacho, a boy born in 2016 with Methylmalonic Acidemia Minus.
“At first, I was scared and I cried, but after months of testing and careful follow-up, we now know what to look for. We know when and what Tristan should be eating since his body can’t fully process protein. To be honest, if it wasn’t for his newborn screening, I don’t know where we would be today. I’m grateful. Tristan is a super happy, healthy boy,” said Christine Camacho, Tristan’s mother.
What to expect
Each state’s standard newborn health screen varies in the number and types of conditions tested for. Most states test for 29 of the 35 conditions recommended by the Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children. Although the 35 conditions recommended are rare, they’re found through screening in over 5,000 babies every year. Because screening is a public health service, the requirements and restrictions are determined by each state’s public health department.
Individual state screening factors include:
- The state’s laws
- The financial cost of screening
- Frequency of the condition in that state
- Treatment availability and follow-up for each condition
- Newborn screening program funding
Find your state’s newborn screening information here.
Spread the word
Baby’s First Test is the nation’s newborn screening education center that provides information and resources to families and providers. For years, they have been celebrating Newborn Screening Awareness Month by creating a community for parents to learn more and share their experiences.
To raise awareness about newborn screening, tell your story by posting it on social media with the hashtag #2019NBS, or submit it to the Baby’s First Test website, on the “Family Experiences” page. By searching #2019NBS on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you can read hundreds of stories from parents across the world.
Follow these storytelling tips:
- Include key information like who, what, when, where and why
- Focus on a single story to tell
- Keep it short and sweet so your reader doesn’t lose interest
- Incorporate images or videos to enhance the story
- Include a call to action to convey a clear goal of the story (to raise awareness, advocate, etc.)
Texarkana Emergency Center encourages the parents in our community to become informed and spread awareness about newborn screening. In the case of a medical emergency, we are here to help your family any time of the day, any day of the year. Our premier facility is open 27/4, 365, and we take pride in providing concierge-level care for you and your loved ones.