New Jersey Newborn Screening Tests for Healthier Babies
The state of New Jersey routinely tests all newborns for a number of disorders that can cause serious health problems. Problems may include mental retardation, disability, or even death when not treated early in life. These disorders are not visible at birth and may not show up during a routine check-up. These can be detected by special blood tests.
Unfortunately, a serious medical condition can unexpectedly occur in any baby. Because of the importance of early detection, all states provide some form of newborn screening. In addition, New Jersey screens all newborns for hearing loss within the first month of life.
How will the blood tests be done?
A few drops of blood will be taken from your baby’s heel by one of the health professionals at the hospital. The blood will be sent to the NJ state newborn screening laboratory. If your baby is not born in a hospital, the health professional who delivers your baby is responsible for seeing that the testing is done.
How will I get the blood test results?
The results are available through your baby’s doctor or nurse.
Will more tests be needed?
Your baby’s health professional or the NJ Department of Health will contact you by phone or special mail if more testing (a re-test) is needed. There are many reasons why this can happen and it does not necessarily mean that your baby has a problem. You will be told where to take the baby, and it is important that you do so right away.
What if my child has a problem?
If the re-test shows that your baby does have a medical problem, finding it early is the best way to prevent serious physical and mental disabilities from developing. Depending on the problem, health professionals may recommend special vitamins, medications, or changes in your baby’s diet.
What are supplemental screens?
Supplemental screens look for other life-threatening conditions not routinely tested for in the state lab and are available through a few private labs. They can be done before your baby leaves the hospital using blood drops collected from a heel stick. There may be additional costs for these screens. Speak with your healthcare provider for more information.
How will the hearing tests be done?
A health professional in the hospital will test your baby’s hearing. The testing may be done while the baby is sleeping. For babies who are not tested before they go home from the hospital, or those born outside of a hospital, it is important for you to speak with your baby’s health professional about how to have your baby's hearing tested by 1 month of age.
How will I get the hearing test results?
The results are usually available through your baby’s doctor or nurse.
Will more tests be needed?
If your baby needs a re-test, you will either be told after the first test or you will receive a letter. The need for a repeat test does not necessarily mean that your child has hearing loss. You will be told where to take the baby, and it is important that you do so right away.
What if my child has a hearing problem?
If the re-test shows that your baby has hearing loss, professionals will discuss treatment options with you. For example, you may consider hearing aids, speech therapy or surgery. Starting treatment as early as possible allows the best chance for your child to hear and speak.
How do I get more information?
You can ask your baby’s health professional or call the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services. For a list of disorders included in blood testing call (609) 292-1582 or go to Disorders Screened for in NJ. For hearing test information, call Newborn Hearing Screening Program at (609) 984-1343 (voice or TTY) or go to NJ Early Hearing Detection. Information regarding supplemental newborn screening tests can be downloaded in English and Spanish.
What if I move or am staying at a different address after the baby is born?
Be sure to give the hospital and baby’s health professional the address and telephone number where you can be reached. This is important so that no time is wasted getting help for your baby.
March of Dimes Pregnancy & Newborn Health Education Center
Tel: 888-MODIMES (any language)
TTY: (914) 997-4764
In Spanish: www.nacersano.org
National Newborn Screening & Genetics Resource Center
Health Research and Educational Trust of New Jersey (HRET)
(Includes ordering information for audiovisual aids and printed brochures on newborn screening in NJ)