A small spot of your baby’s blood can be used to get important information about his or her health. A newborn baby can look healthy but have a rare and serious disorder that you and your doctor or midwife may not know about. Newborn screening finds babies who may have one of a number of these rare disorders. When these disorders are found and treated early, the chances of serious health problems are prevented or reduced later in life. If not treated, these disorders can cause severe mental handicap, growth problems, health problems and sudden infant death.
Your baby’s heel is pricked and a few drops of blood are taken and put onto a special card. Your baby may cry, but taking the blood sample does not harm your baby. You can help your baby by holding and breastfeeding her or him while the blood is being taken. The blood sample is sent to the laboratory at BC Children’s Hospital for testing. The same blood sample is used to screen for all disorders.
When testing of the blood sample is completed, the card with the leftover blood is kept in secure storage by the BC Newborn Screening Program. Please see our Blood Spot Card Storage & Use FAQs page for more information.
A blood sample will be taken in the hospital before leaving. Over 80% of disorders can be screened using this blood sample. You will be given instructions on how to have the sample repeated within 2 weeks. The purpose of the second sample is to double check the few disorders that can be missed on the first (early) screen.
The earlier these treatable disorders are found, the better the outcome for babies with these disorders. It is strongly advised that your baby not leave the hospital without a blood sample being taken. If you decide you do not want your baby to have a blood sample taken before he or she leaves the hospital, you will be asked to sign a form to show you understand the reasons for the test and the possible outcome for your baby if your baby is not tested and has one of these disorders.
If your baby is under the care of a Registered Midwife, the midwife may review options with you to have the blood sample drawn at home.