Newborn Screening Information for Parents

Newborn screening is the practice of testing newborn babies for certain harmful or potentially fatal disorders. Rhode Island law requires that all birthing hospitals in Rhode Island screen every baby for 35 conditions, including hearing loss and critical congenital heart disease. All babies are tested because babies with these disorders often appear healthy at birth. Serious problems, including mental retardation and death, can be prevented if the disorders are discovered early.

What You Should Do

Have your newborn's blood screened

  • The blood sample should be drawn after your baby is 24-48 hours (1-2 days) old, but before your baby leaves the hospital. Babies born at home with births performed by midwives should also receive a blood screening.
  • Your baby’s doctor will contact you if the results suggest that your baby may have one of the conditions tested.
  • Sometimes a baby needs to be tested again. This does not always mean that your baby has one of the conditions tested. For some conditions, a screening test is a first test to determine if more tests are needed.
  • more

Video credit: Savebabies.org

Have your newborn's hearing screened

Rhode Island birthing hospitals and Midwives are required to either screen babies for hearing loss or provide information to parents on where to obtain a newborn hearing screening. Screenings may be done at any of Rhode Island’s Birthing Hospitals. more

Have your newborn receive a screening for critical congenital heart disease

Babies born at Rhode Island birthing hospitals and at-home births performed by midwives will have a critical congenital heart disease screening using a pulse oximetry test to measure their oxygen levels. Sometimes lower oxygen levels in the blood can be a symptom of certain health problems. more

Exemptions

As a parent, you may refuse newborn screening for your baby only if your religious beliefs and practices do not allow this testing. If you refuse to have any tests done, you will be asked to sign a paper stating that you refused to have your baby tested for these very serious and potentially life-threatening disorders.