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Screening Basics

How is newborn screening done?

Each baby born in Indiana will have the following three (3) screens performed, unless the parent refuses for religious reasons and completes a Religious Waiver: 

Heel Stick / Bloodspot ScreeningBefore every baby goes home from the nursery, he or she has a small amount of blood taken from his or her heel. This is called the heel stick. The blood is collected on the newborn screening card and referred to as the dried blood spot (DBS) sample.The DBS sample that is collected is used to screen for over 60 rare genetic conditions. If anything concerning is found, the Newborn Screening Laboratory contacts the baby’s doctor. 

Pulse Oximetry Screening - Since January 1, 2012, every baby born in Indiana has been required to be screened for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) through pulse oximetry,  unless parents refuse screening due to their religious beliefs.

Hearing Screening - All babies also receive a hearing screen to identify possible hearing loss. This is called the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS).  For more information about UNHS or hearing loss, please click here.

A Parent's Guide to Newborn Screening Video explains the basics about newborn screening, its purpose and what parents need to do if rescreening is necessary.This video was created by the March of Dimes.

Heel Stick/Bloodspot Screening

Heel stick screening is a quick and simple method of obtaining a sample of a newborn's blood. This blood, called the bloodspots, is sent to the newborn screening laboratory where it is then analyzed for over 60 rare, life-threatening genetic conditions.

Pulse Oximetry Screening

Pulse oximetry (pulse ox) is a quick, non-invasive, gentle test that measures how much oxygen a baby has in his or her blood.  Pulse oximetry is used as part of newborn screening to determine how healthy a baby’s heart & lungs are.

Babies who have low oxygen levels, less than 95%, may need to be evaluated for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD), sepsis, respiratory problems, or other conditions detrimental to the baby's health.

Critical congenital heart disease (also called CCHD) is a broad term that refers to several different heart defects. A heart defect occurs when a baby's heart does not develop correctly. Seven (7) different CCHDs can be detected by pulse oximetry screening. A baby born with one of these heart defects often has a low amount of oxygen in their blood. All of these heart defects require treatment, often involving surgery, to correct them soon after birth. If a baby has CCHD and does not receive treatment shortly after birth, the baby has a higher chance of developing serious health outcomes, including death.

It is important for parents to know that pulse oximetry cannot identify every child with CCHD. Most babies who pass the pulse oximetry screen will not have CCHD. However, parents should know the signs of CCHD: blue color to the skin, fingernails or lips, fast breathing and/or poor feeding or weight gain. If you notice any of these signs, please contact your baby's doctor.

Hearing Screening