Newborn Screening: Why Is It Important for Your Baby?

Having a baby is a beautiful feeling for a parent, but you can’t deny that it comes with a lot of responsibilities. Parenting is primarily about caring for your child and making sure your baby is healthy. Introduces newborn screening, which is important for newborn babies. It refers to screening newborns soon after birth for conditions, some of which are potentially fatal and treatable, but which cannot be picked up on routine examination of the baby.

Newborn screening to check for metabolic disorders is a must!

A metabolic disorder is a disorder that interferes with the way the body breaks down food, absorbs nutrients, or handles enzymes. If left untreated, some of these conditions can affect a baby’s development. They can cause organ damage or even death. Nearly 2.5 crore babies are born in India every year and 25,000 of them have metabolic disorders, according to data from the Indian Council of Medical Research.

The three most common metabolic disorders in India are congenital hypothyroidism, a disease in which the thyroid gland does not function and if not treated at the right time, it can lead to mental retardation. The other two diseases are G6PD deficiency, a disease in which the G6PD enzyme is reduced in red blood cells making them more susceptible to breakage, and congenital adrenal hyperplasia which, if left untreated, can lead to genital abnormalities and in many cases can be fatal. are.

All countries choose the set of conditions depending on the epidemiological prevalence and resources in India.

Also read: Be aware of these rare diseases in newborns that can affect your baby’s growth

Newborn screening helps diagnose various diseases! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

When is the ideal time for newborn screening?

Samples are typically collected after 72 hours and within seven days of delivery. Blood spots are collected via a heel prick. Three to five blood spots are collected and placed on a filter paper card which is dried at room temperature and then sealed and sent to the laboratory for testing.

Is treatment available for the diseases diagnosed with screening?

If a child is diagnosed with one of the diseases through screening tests, there are treatments available that will reduce your child’s risk of developing a problem. For congenital hypothyroidism and congenital adrenal hyperplasia, oral tablets are started, and G6PD deficiency only requires avoidance of certain medications and foods.

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Hearing screening is a must for newborn babies

Significant hearing loss affects 1-2 babies in every thousand babies born. Hearing loss is one of the most critical sensory impairments with significant social and psychological consequences. If children with hearing loss go undetected, it can lead to lifelong speech and language deficits and poor school performance. All newborns should undergo a hearing screening to prevent complications.

All newborns should undergo a hearing screening before one month of age. The most commonly used test is OAE (Oto Acoustic Emissions). This test involves placing a small probe into the child’s ear canal, emitting clicking sounds, and recording a response. The purpose of the hearing screen is to screen all infants before the age of one month to diagnose hearing loss before the age of three months and begin treatment before the age of six months.

Are newborns screened for congenital heart defects?

Yes, the incidence of serious congenital heart disease is 1.8 to 2 per 1000 live births. Critical congenital heart disease requires medical or surgical intervention and if not performed at the right time, it can be fatal.

congenital heart defects in newborns
Newborn screening can help detect congenital heart disease. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Should all babies undergo newborn screening?

All newborns must undergo the screening. This screening is performed after 24 hours of life and before the baby is discharged. To perform this screening, a pulse oximeter probe device that measures oxygen levels is placed on the right hand and foot. The doctor decides whether the baby passed the test or failed based on the oxygen level. If a baby fails the test, the baby will undergo further echocardiography to look for the presence of heart disease. Many of the babies diagnosed with heart disease require emergency medical or surgical treatment.

Newborn screening is an essential tool in diagnosing many diseases in babies that are otherwise extremely difficult to detect at the right time. If picked at the right time, they can receive the right treatment for healthy survival. All babies should undergo a metabolic examination, a hearing examination and a critical examination for congenital heart disease.

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