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Screening Basics

Heel Stick Screening

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.



Hearing Screening

Why is hearing screening part of Indiana’s newborn screen?

Simple tests can be used to screen a baby’s hearing immediately after birth. All babies can and should have their hearing screened before they leave the hospital (or before they are one month of age). It is important to find hearing loss early, so a baby has the best chance possible to learn to communicate.

Each year in the US, approximately 2 – 3 out of every 1,000 children are born with permanent hearing loss. Without newborn hearing screening, most of these children would not be identified with hearing loss during babyhood. By including hearing screening in Indiana’s newborn screen, most of these children can be identified before 3 months of age and obtain early intervention services by 6 months of age. 

Pulse Oximetry Screening

What is pulse oximetry newborn screening?

Pulse oximetry newborn screening (also called “pulse ox”) is a test that measures how much oxygen a baby has in his/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 (meaning there is not much oxygen in the baby’s blood) may have critical congenital heart disease (also called CCHD).


Indiana was the 2nd state to have pulse oximetry newborn screening added to the state newborn screen.  Beginning January 1, 2012, every baby born in Indiana is required to have pulse oximetry newborn screening, unless the baby's parents object to newborn screening due to their religious beliefs.


It is important for parents to know that pulse oximetry newborn screening cannot identify every child with CCHD.  Most babies who pass the pulse oximetry screen will not have CCHD.  However, it is important for parents to know the signs of CCHD (including a blue color to the skin/fingernails/lips, fast breathing, & poor feeding or poor weight gain).  If you notice any of these signs in your baby, please contact your baby’s doctor.


Why is pulse oximetry used to screen for CCHD?

Pulse oximetry is used to screen for CCHD because it is a fast, simple, accurate test that can be done shortly after a baby is born.  Without pulse ox newborn screening, some babies with CCHD might leave the hospital/midwifery without being identified.  Every baby receives a complete examination from a doctor before he/she leaves the hospital.  However, some babies with CCHD are “missed” because the baby may not have the symptoms of CCHD (such as an abnormal heart rate or an extra sound in the baby’s heartbeat called a murmur) that can be detected during an exam. 


What is critical congenital heart disease (CCHD)?

Critical congenital heart disease (also called CCHD) occurs when a baby’s heart does not develop correctly.  There are seven different heart defects that can be identified with pulse oximetry newborn screening.  A baby with one of these heart defects usually has a low amount of oxygen in his/her blood.  All of these heart defects require some type of treatment (often involving surgery) soon after birth.  If a baby has CCHD & does not receive treatment shortly after birth, the baby has a higher chance of other problems, including death.