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Newborn Screening

Newborn Screening tests infants for heritable disorders that can threaten the health or well-being of your new child.

What are Genetic Disorders?

Genetic disorders include birth defects and inborn errors of metabolism your baby may be born with. Genetic disorders cannot be cured. They can, however, be treated to reduce their effect on your child throughout his or her life.

Genetic Counseling

Genetic counseling is offered to parents of children with genetic disorders. A doctor will explain what genetic disorders are, how genetic testing works, and how to understand the results to help plan your child's future.

Newborn Screening

Newborn screening is a blood test that can identify the most common genetic disorders. Babies can be tested shortly after birth to discover and treat any problems as soon as possible.

Early screening is the only way to detect these disorders and prevent permanent damage to your child. Early detection means that treatment can be started that will help your child lead a normal life.

What we test for

We screen Mississippi newborns for a wide range of genetic disorders.

Birth Defects

Birth defects are the leading cause of death in the first year of life. While all the causes of birth defects are not known, some birth defects can be prevented. Mississippi maintains a Birth Defects Registry in order to monitor and better understand birth defects in the state.

Questions and Answers

  • What is newborn screening?

    Newborn screening is testing on a small blood sample which is performed on newborns before they are discharged from the hospital. Screening is done before discharge to identify serious conditions as soon as possible that may require special care or further testing.

  • Why should my baby have the screening?

    The conditions for which your baby will be screened for are individually rare. However, some are also very serious and can result in mental retardation or death if not treated. Babies with these conditions appear normal at birth. It is only with time that the condition affects the baby's mental or physical development, causing other medical problems which could result in permanent damage. The newborn screen helps to identify babies who need treatment such as medication or special diets.

    Newborn screening tests are reliable, but may not always detect a disorder. If your baby is sick, talk to the baby's doctor as soon as possible.

  • My baby looks healthy. Is screening still necessary?

    YES! Most infants with a condition found by newborn screening show no signs of the condition right after birth. Screening can usually identify a problem before the baby becomes sick, and in time to provide for any special medical care.

  • Do I have to give permission for my baby to be screened for these conditions?

    No. The law (MS Statute 41-21-201) requires that all babies born in Mississippi be screened prior to discharge from the hospital regardless of the age of the baby or the feeding status. The only legal reason for not collecting a screening specimen is if the parents object to such testing for religious reasons.

  • May I refuse the screening test?

    As a parent, you may refuse newborn screening only if your religious beliefs and practices do not allow this testing. If you refuse to have the screen performed on your baby, you may be asked to sign a form stating you refused to have your baby screened for these very serious conditions. This form will go in your baby's medical record.

  • Is there a fee for the screening test?

    Yes. A small fee is billed to the hospital where your baby was born.

  • Are genetic disorders serious?

    Some genetic disorders are serious; some are even life-threatening. Others slow physical development or cause mental retardation. Unfortunately, most infants with these disorders show no obvious signs of disease at first. The good news is that proper screening at birth can discover these problems early. With early diagnosis and treatment, some genetic disorders can often be managed effectively.

  • What conditions are currently screened for in Mississippi?

  • When and how is the screening test done?

    Some genetic disorders are serious; some are even life-threatening. Others slow physical development or cause mental retardation. Unfortunately, most infants with these disorders show no obvious signs of disease at first. The good news is that proper screening at birth can discover these problems early. With early diagnosis and treatment, some genetic disorders can often be managed effectively.

    The screening specimen is usually collected between 24 and 48 hours of age. A few drops of blood are taken by pricking the baby's heel and dropping blood onto a special newborn screening card that is shipped to the screening laboratory.

  • Will I be told the newborn screening test results?

    Results are mailed to the hospital of birth. The doctor of record will be notified of any abnormal newborn screening results by the Mississippi State Department of Health. It is very important that the hospital have the parents' correct last name, physical address, and a working telephone number. Your baby's doctor can request your baby's screening result from the hospital or call the Mississippi State Department of Health's Genetic Services Program for the screening results. Ask your baby's doctor about the screening results at the first well-baby checkup.

  • If a repeat screening is requested, does it mean my baby may have a condition?

    Not necessarily. There are several reasons why a repeat screening may be needed. If the screening is done incorrectly, a repeat test will be needed. If a blood sample is collected too early, a repeat screening is needed. Having to retest for these reasons does not mean that something is wrong with your baby; it means another sample is needed so that the screening can be done properly.

    If the first screening was abnormal for one of the conditions, a second, confirmatory screening may be required. Having an abnormal screening test does not mean that your baby has a problem. Screening identifies those babies who may need more specific testing to accurately detect a disorder. This second, confirmatory test does positively tell whether your child has a condition.

  • Can these conditions be cured?

    There is no known cure for these conditions. The serious effects of these conditions can be lessened with a special diet, medical treatment, or other intervention if started early.

  • If my baby has one of these conditions, does it mean my future children will also be affected?

    Your doctor can discuss this with you or refer you to a specialist. These specialists have information about the specific condition and how it is inherited. They can help you understand any risk for your future children.

  • What is the incidence of these disorders in Mississippi?

    See our Newborn Screening Report 2003-2008.

  • My newborn has a positive test for Cystic Fibrosis. What does this mean?

    Most newborns with a positive test do not have cystic fibrosis. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has a Q & A section that answers most of the common questions about CF screening and the disease:

Get in touch — find out more

Contact

To learn more about Newborn Screening, or take advantage of genetic counseling, contact your local health department office, or:

  • MSDH Genetic Services: 601-576-7619
  • University Medical Center Medical Genetics: 601-984-1913

We want to hear from you about about maternal and child health needs and programs in Mississippi. Take a moment to share your ideas and concerns with us.  Send us a message »

This page last reviewed on Aug 21, 2013 report errors on this page e-mail email this page print print 

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Mississippi State Department of Health 570 East Woodrow Wilson Dr Jackson, MS 39216 866-HLTHY4U web@HealthyMS.com Facebook Twitter RSS