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What is new born screening

New born screening is a form of preventive health care in which babies are tested within the first 48 hours (approx.) of their life to discover evidence of diseases for which the principal symptoms may not be apparent

In certain serious congenital metabolic disease the correct treatment given quickly can prevent death, development disability or other serious problems. Most of the children suffering from these very rare diseases appear to be completely normal at birth. In order to start treatment before symptoms appear and before permanent damage has to develop, screening tests are used to detect the earliest signs of the disease.

Only by testing all babies can we be sure of finding the few sick babies, for whom early recognition and treatment of the disease is vital.

Screening is simple- the test is carried out with a few drops of blood taken on blotting paper when the baby is about 2 days old and has started taking milk.

It is important to recogonise that the newborn screening process involves far more than just the screening. The institution of a program requires that systems are in place for the efficient collection of samples from all newborns, for the reporting of results and possible recall of a child for diagnostic testing. Most important, a system must be in place to ensure babies with confirmed disorders receive the timely treatment that they require.