50 Years of Newborn Screening

January 29th, 2013 by Will Humble Leave a reply »

Last year we welcomed about 87,000 newborns to Arizona.  Our Newborn Screening Program (in our State Lab) ensures that each are tested for 28 inherited disorders and hearing problems.   The goal is to help kids avoid illness, developmental delays and even death.  Teamwork, communication and coordination are critical in making this program effective.  A quick look at the numbers reveals how monumental this screening task really is.

On any given day our newborn screening team receives and tests from 600 to 1,500 bloodspot samples for each of the 28 disorders. Our demographics team verifies the results and confirms all of the data associated with each sample as well as ensuring that lab results are sent out to the health care provider.  Our case management team follows up on about 140 potentially positive results (including hearing) each week, coordinates the confirmation test and works with pediatricians, clinical specialists and families.


The end result?  Because of the dedication and commitment of each member of the Team, hundreds of families have the opportunity for their newborn to receive the early treatment, intervention and support services that will allow them to lead normal lives.  Of course, none of this would be possible without the gasoline that runs the engine, the billing department brings in the money that keeps this effective machine helping families every day.

The first state-mandated newborn screening programs began in Massachusetts, Oregon, and Delaware 50 years ago this week.  Now, 97% of U.S. newborns are screened by state public health labs like ours.  The Association of Public Health Laboratories is partnering with the CDC to launch a year-long public awareness campaign to celebrate this milestone. The campaign website includes a calendar of events and informational resources for expectant parents, healthcare providers, and health decision-makers.



  1. I’d really appreciate and support of this new process in which when a child is born he undergoes a newborn screening process right away. This process really has a big help for the family to determine how healthy the kid is, and if there’s something wrong with their health at least it can be prevented through early treatment and intervention.

  2. Mellisa Jones says:

    Nice read! Hearing loss has become a major disorder and it occurs in approximately one in three infants today. Hearing loss is a fastest growing disease which happens much more frequently than other conditions typically screened before the infants are one month old. Most of the hearing health specialists suggest parents that all newborn infants should be screened for congenital hearing loss that is presented at birth. Hearing loss screening should be done of all the children as those who are hearing impaired at birth, during infancy, or during early childhood can have problems with nonverbal and verbal communication and social skills, lower academic achievement. During a hearing test screening the health specialist may discover signs of hearing loss and an early diagnosis is always a better prevention of hearing loss.

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