(01/03/14) - There are five key tests for newborns that experts say every baby should have, but not all states require them. Every year, more than four million babies are born in the United States. All of them are screened for certain health conditions, but the tests your baby receives depends on where you live.
Baby Gael is happy and healthy, but just hours after he was born, his parents got devastating news, says his father, Davis, "it was really hard to hear. I was just destroyed."
Gael had a serious congenital heart defect and needed major surgery.
"It was the worst six hours I have ever been through," Davis says.
The operation was a success, and Gael's parents feel lucky that a newborn screening test detected the problem before they even left the hospital.
"It can be dangerous and even life-threatening if they are sent home without being diagnosed," says pediatric cardiologist, Dr. Gregory Perens.
Pulse oximetry takes just a few minutes and is the only screening for heart defects. But tests like this aren't mandatory everywhere. Each state screens for anywhere from four to 30 disorders.
The second test screens for sickle cell. It detects the blood disorder that occurs in about one in every 500 African American births.
Next, the infant hearing screening. The test is performed in most, but not all states. Babies should ideally be screened within three weeks of birth.
The cystic fibrosis screening can help doctors detect and treat lung and nutritional problems sooner.
Finally, the toxoplasmosis test detects an infection that can invade the brain, eye, and muscle. It affects one in 1,000 babies, but less than a handful of states screen for it.
Baby Gael's mother says she is grateful that the newborn test picked up her son's problem before it was too late, "every day that we have him, and every month that he turns one more month, we are like, oh we thank God that we have him."
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently called for a more standardized newborn screening program. For a list of to find out what newborn illnesses Michigan and other states screen for, visit www.BABYSFIRSTTEST.org.
ABC12 Main Station