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Office of Newborn Screening

Information for Parents

Note: Because some disorders can cause problems early in life, it is important for the contact information to be correct on the newborn screening card so that a family can be notified quickly if there is an abnormal result.

The Newborn Screening Story: How One Simple Test Changed Lives, Science and Health in America, published by the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), covers the origins, science, importance and future of Newborn Screening.

With the right information, you can provide the best start for your baby's health. Did you know that over 90,000 babies are born in Arizona each year? Most of them are healthy but some have a rare and serious disease or hearing loss. Testing and early detection of these disorders is important for all babies. Early treatment can prevent or minimize serious symptoms like growth problems, brain damage and even death.

Bloodspot/Heel Stick Screening

The Arizona Newborn Screening bloodspot test screens for 28 rare and serious disorders. Find answers below to some of the most commonly asked questions:

When are the blood tests done?
  • The first test is collected when your baby is 24-36 hours old.
  • The second is collected at the first visit to the doctor outside the hospital or between 5 and 10 days of age, whichever comes first.
  • It is important that these tests are done promptly because some of the screened disorders can cause serious problems in the first two weeks of life. Although these disorders cannot be cured, early treatment that continues throughout life can postpone or eliminate the damage that would have been done if the baby was never treated.
  • Get a full description of the disorders on the Arizona Screening Panel.
How are the screening tests done?
  • Several drops of blood are taken from your baby's heel and placed on a card with special filter paper.
  • When the blood is dry, the card with identifying information is sent to the Arizona State Laboratory for testing.
  • Results are reported to the doctor who ordered the test.
  • Ask your baby's doctor for the test results.
How long does it take for the results and what do we do next?
  • Most of the newborn screening tests come back normal but some abnormal results will be reported.
  • Most babies who have an abnormal result will have a normal repeat test and will not have a disorder.
  • If any results are abnormal, further testing will be needed to tell whether a baby actually has a disorder.
  • There is also a slight possibility that a disorder might be missed with a screening test so doctors will still consider the possibility of a disorder if symptoms arise later.
  • Doctors will consult with specialists who work with the Office of Newborn Screening to get babies the proper testing and treatment, if necessary.
Why is newborn screening so important?
  • Most of the screened disorders are inherited but most babies with disorders have no prior family history of the disorder.
  • There is no way to tell whether a baby will have a disorder without testing so all babies are at risk.
  • Even though the risk of a disorder is small, it would be tragic to have a baby who was not screened who later suffered permanent damage because diagnosis was not possible until symptoms appeared.