Shortly after babies are born, medical staff must perform various health screenings on them. These determine whether the infants have any diseases or conditions that could prove harmful. You might want to know what the medical team does and what they try to look for; the following are the most common tests that newborn babies must undergo.
It’s important to know early on whether a newborn has a loss of hearing. After a period of six hours or more following birth, a baby’s ears are completely clear and should be functional under normal circumstances. At this point, medical professionals can begin performing hearing tests. They’ll place small earphones on the baby that release sound into his or her ears. From there, machines can record the responses of the baby’s body to these signals.
One test called the Otoacoustic Emissions Test uses a microphone along with the earphones to listen to echoes in the ear canal. Echoes are a sign that hearing is fine. The Auditory Brain Stem Response Test, on the other hand, utilizes electrodes on the baby’s head to quantify the response of the brain to sound signals from the headphones.
Medical professionals can tell a lot from blood, so blood screenings are also common tests that newborn babies must undergo. To collect the blood for general testing, a member of the medical team sticks a needle into the infant’s heel. They’ll place the collected drops of blood on filter paper, which they’ll then send to a laboratory. There, the blood will undergo analysis to determine whether there are signs of metabolic, hormonal, or genetic diseases. These could include congenital adrenal hyperplasia, maple syrup urine disease, and sickle cell disease, to name a few.
The blood from the umbilical cord is also useful for blood testing. Conditions related to a mother’s and child’s blood compatibility come to light through this testing. For example, hemolytic disease of the newborn, where antibodies break down an infant’s red blood cells, is testable with cord blood. If a positive DAT results from this test, this indicates the baby is subject to this disease.