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4 Newborn Screening Tests That Are Crucial to Your Baby's Health
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  • The birth of a child signals the end of a very long period of waiting to finally see your baby and hold him close. It’s also the beginning of your journey into parenthood where, of course, your baby’s well-being comes first.

    Instinctively, you’ll want to make sure that your baby is at the prime of his health from that point on. Thus, it is absolutely necessary that your newborn undergoes some tests within a few minutes to a few days after birth. 

    “These tests catch conditions that may not have immediate symptoms,” Anjana Ali Solaiman, a registered nurse and spokesperson for the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, told Parents. “If there is an issue, it often requires immediate treatment, which makes early detection critical,” she adds.

    To give you peace of mind, ask your doctors about these health screenings for your baby before you give birth.

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    Health screening tests for newborns


    The APGAR is observed immediately after a baby is born: the first one at the 1-minute-mark, and the second, five minutes later. APGAR is an acronym for Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration, which, in a nutshell, is a gauge for your newborn’s well-being at the time of birth. It is a standard test “done in the first minutes of life to determine how well the infant is transitioning to life outside of the womb,” U.S. board-certified neonatologist Terri Major-Kincade, M.D., told Parents. A total APGAR score of 7 or above indicates good health, while a lower score may signal the need for additional medical care. (Find out what each APGAR category signifies here.)


    Hearing test

    Hearing tests are crucial at infancy because a hearing deficiency that is left undetected could adversely affect not only a child’s speech (he needs to be able to hear to learn how to talk) but also his overall development as well. An infant with a hearing disability will not show any visible signs until it’s probably too late, making newborn hearing screening test a must. There is also a law that all Filipino babies to undergo the test before being discharged from the hospital after birth. The test is conducted by a certified hearing screening personnel using an instrument to detect an auditory brain response from the baby. It generally takes only a few minutes. (Learn more about the importance of newborn hearing test here.) 

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    Newborn screening

    The purpose of the newborn screening test is to check if your baby is born with a disorder, even if there are no physical manifestations yet. This is done through a blood test, where a sample of your baby’s blood is obtained through a prick on the heel of his foot. There are currently two types of newborn screening: ‘Basic’ tests for six congenital disorders in infants, while the ‘Expanded’ one tests for 28 conditions, including the six in the basic package. If your baby tests positive on any of the conditions, your doctor will refer you to specialists knowledgeable in that area. The Newborn Care Package is part of the Philhealth benefits for members. (Get more details about the newborn screening here.)

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    Pulse oximetry screening

    Nine out of every 1,000 babies born worldwide have congenital heart disease, which could lead to critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) in childhood. Early detection is key to preventing mortality, and one of the most effective ways to diagnose CCHD is through pulse oximetry screening. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that this test be added as part of newborn screening, it is not yet part of it. According to Parents, it is a quick, painless test that measures your baby’s blood oxygen. Fluctuating levels could be a red flag for CCHD. If you wish to have it done on your newborn, ask your doctor about it. 

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