September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Newborn Screening Laboratory tests newborns for more than 50 rare, but serious, genetic disorders or medical conditions. Finding these conditions early and starting treatment can help prevent serious complications, including developmental delays, illness or even death.

Texas began screening babies for one disorder, phenylketonuria, or PKU, in 1965. Over the past 50 years, the program has expanded to screen for 55 disorders.

Every baby born in Texas gets two newborn screening blood tests, one at 24–48 hours after birth and a second at one to two weeks old. Babies also receive screening tests for hearing and critical congenital heart disease.

More than 1,000 of the 400,000 babies born in Texas each year are diagnosed with one of the 55 screened conditions.

The Texas Newborn Screening Program follows the federal Recommended Uniform Screening Panel in determining which conditions to screen for, as state funding allows.

The DSHS Laboratory receives an average of about 2,500 samples per day and performs testing six days per week, Monday–Saturday.

If there is an abnormal test result, the Newborn Screening Clinical Care Coordination staff follows up and offers case management to ensure the baby receives additional testing to confirm a disorder or medical condition and treatment, if needed.

To learn more, visit the DSHS Newborn Screening Program website.