Metabolic screening of the newborn is used to detect metabolic birth defects. (Metabolic refers to chemical changes that take place within living cells during the process of digestion and absorption) These conditions cannot be seen in the newborn, but if untreated can cause physical problems, mental retardation and, in some cases, death.
The test requires a sample of blood from your baby and is most accurate if conducted at around the 3rd or 4th day of life. The blood is collected by sticking your baby's heel with a lancet and collecting 5 drops of blood on a special test card.
Metabolic screening is mandated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of New Jersey. This means that all infants are required to be screened per state law unless a parent or guardian objects on the grounds that the test conflicts with personal or religious practice.
We will provide you with information about metabolic newborn screening and can provide your baby with this test if you desire. In Pennsylvania, the cost of the basic screening is paid for by the Department of Health. A supplemental newborn screening is strongly recommended by the Department of Health for an additional out-of-pocket cost of approximately $25. In New Jersey, the test costs $100 and is payable when we perform the test at the 48-72 hr postpartum visit. Results of the screen will be sent to your pediatrician or family practice physician.
A complete listing of metabolic birth defects and their treatments can be found at the March of Dimes website.
Specific information on the Pennsylvania Newborn Screening program can be found at the PA Department of Health website. More information about the New Jersey Newborn Screening program can be found at the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services website.
Download Motherland Midwifery's Informed Consent for Newborn Metabolic Screening here.