September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month!
Newborn screening is a public health service that can help identify serious and rare health conditions in newborn babies. Screening is essential for the early detection and management of several congenital disorders, which if left untreated, may lead to cognitive impairment and/or death. Every September, there is a global effort to raise awareness of how newborn screening can improve long-term health and survival.
Testing newborns for a group of health disorders that aren't otherwise found at birth involves a simple blood test. A sample of the baby's blood is drawn from a heel-prick and the blood sample is collected in a small vial or on a special paper. Baby's heel may have some redness or minor bruising at the pricked site, but this usually lasts for only a few days.
The blood is then sent for testing, where doctors check for rare genetic, metabolic, or hormone-related conditions that can cause serious health problems. The screening tests check for over 60 disorders including sickle cell disease, phenylketonuria (PKU), congenital hypothyroidism, and hearing loss.
Newborn screening improves the long-term health and survival of children. Our Preventing Child Mortality course also supports healthy development throughout childhood and can improve public health outcomes by addressing child mortality. Health professionals working with vulnerable populations can improve their understanding of the causes and major interventions that can reduce the burden of childhood illness.