Types of Tests Newborn Undergoes In Hospital

Types of Tests Newborn Undergoes In Hospital

Every parent expects that their newborn baby, who brings a lot of joy and happiness to the family, should be healthy at every point of life. Just to confirm that the newborn is up and healthy, he or she will be undergoing a number of tests so that you are fully satisfied with his condition.

Highlights

  • Newborn baby has to go through a number of tests to check he is developing normally
  • Hearing test, blood sugar, and bilirubin test are done to identify potential health problems
  • Mostly, the test results are normal but if conditions are detected, most of them they can be treated by simple techniques

These tests are vital to ensure that the newcomer in the family is developing as expected and there are no medical conditions that require treatment. Here are some of the test new parents can expect at the hospital.

1. Newborn Screening Test

The newborn screening test is administered shortly after the birth of your baby. It is known as Recommended Uniform Screening Panel (RUSP) and is performed when the baby has turned at least 24 hours old. 

Why your baby needs this test? 

The test is usually done to check some genetic and metabolic disorders.

How is the test performed? 

In the screening, the nurse will take blood samples by pricking the heel of your baby. The samples are then sent to the lab for the screening of over 30 core disorders.

2. Hearing Test

A newborn hearing test is a non-invasive test that is performed usually on the first day of birth of the baby. The test can be done after a few hours but it is delayed because the birth process might leave some residue in baby’s ear canal that may interfere with the hearing test.

Why your baby needs this test? 

The test is conducted just to determine any partial hearing loss. Even a mild hearing loss can affect child’s cognitive ability. 

How is the test performed? 

The test is quite simple and absolutely painless to the infant. There are basically two types of hearing test; Otacoustic emissions (OAE) and Auditory brainstem response (ABR). 

In Otacoustic emissions, a small earphone will be placed into baby’s ear and the sound is emitted to measure the otoacoustic emissions, which is a kind of echo.

In Auditory brainstem (ABR) technique, headphones are placed on ears while electrodes are placed on baby’s head. A sound is played to measure the response of the brain.

In case the baby fails the hearing test, it is usually repeated once again after a week. If again the baby doesn’t respond, then you will be referred to a specialist.

3. Bilirubin Test

Bilirubin is a substance that is created by the normal breakdown of red blood cells. It is naturally processed and removed by the liver. If the bilirubin level is high, your baby will develop jaundice. When your baby becomes one day old, bilirubin test will be conducted to check the liver abnormalities.

Why your baby needs this test?

Although physiological jaundice in a newborn is quite normal, this test detects if there any possibility of developing severe jaundice. This test usually takes a few seconds and is often done in conjunction with other tests.

How is the test performed? 

Bilirubin level is usually monitored by blood testing but in neonates, it is done through a monitor which is placed on the forehead of the baby. The monitor displays the bilirubin level and the doctor can determine if your baby is at the risk of developing jaundice or not.

4. Blood Sugar Test

A baby born larger or bigger than the baby of his/her age is usually termed as Large for Gestational Age (LGA). Or in other cases, babies born with lower than normal weight are called as Small for Gestational Age. In these cases, the hospital will follow some protocols to test blood sugar of the baby. For example, babies born to women with gestational diabetes are often referred as Large for Gestational Age.

Why your baby needs this test?

Newborns are at the risk of having low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. This condition usually lasts for a few hours or no longer than 72 hours (3 days)

How is the test performed?

The test is done using a heel stick. The doctor might continue to take the blood samples until and unless the blood sugar of baby comes to normal.

5. Apgar Scores

Apgar scores are quick analysis of the clinical status of your newborn baby. The test usually examines 5 things viz. heart rate, breathing, skin color or appearance, muscle activity and reflexes. It is usually done 1 minute after the birth and then repeated after 5 minutes.

How is the test performed? 

A doctor, midwife or nurse conducts a general physical examination of the child. Heart rate is assessed using a stethoscope. Each parameter is given a score of 0-2. Most healthy babies score in between 8 and 9 out of 10, while a score of 3 or less demands immediate medical attention.

Why your baby needs this test?

This score evaluates whether the baby is capable of sustaining life outside the womb.

Why is screening for your newborn necessary?

Screening of newborn is extremely necessary as early diagnosis and proper treatment can prevent the infant from several metabolic disorders. It can sometimes make a big difference between lifelong impairment and healthy development of the child.

What kind of metabolic disorders are usually determined?

Most commonly below four metabolic conditions are evaluated in newborn tests:

Congenital hypothyroidism

It is the condition in which thyroid gland is unable to produce sufficient thyroid hormones. Failing to address this could impair intellect and hinder growth. 

Treatment - If detected early, oral doses of thyroid hormone can treat this condition effectively.

Cystic Fibrosis

 This is a genetic disorder in which there is abnormal secretion in different parts of the body such as lungs and digestive system. If left untreated, it could impair digestive and respiratory functions, eventually decreasing the lifespan. 

Treatment - There is no cure for this disease, but treatment can reduce symptoms if the condition is detected early. Usually, dietary supplements are given to fulfill the nutritional gap.

Amino acid disorders

These conditions are related to enzymes that break down protein. For example, phenylketonuria (PKU) is a metabolic disorder that hinders normal growth in kids. Babies suffering from PKU miss an important enzyme or amino acid known as phenylalanine. When too much phenylalanine builds up, it can damage brain tissue and cause a delay in development.

Treatment - Special infant formula low in phenylalanine can prevent intellectual disability. The doctor would also recommend dietary modifications.

Fatty Acid Oxidation disorder

In this genetic condition, enzymes fail to convert or metabolize fat into energy. This can cause vomiting, diarrhea, muscle weakness, seizures and other behavioral changes.

Treatment - Mother should stay away from prolonged fasting and keep snacking high carbohydrate and low-fat nutrients every 2-6 hours. The doctor would advise some dietary modifications as well.

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Are there any side effects?

Mostly, there are no side effects of conducting these tests. But your baby might feel a pinch in the heel or redness and swelling at the injection site. In rare cases, there is a small risk of infection.

Newborn screening will also depend on place to place. You can check with city hospitals and learn more about these tests. 

The newborn screening is a normal part of the process to identify potential health problems. There isn't anything to worry about. Just follow the instructions of the pediatrician, and your child is good to move on in life.