Newborn Screening: About Your Child's Test

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What is it?

Screening tests help your doctor look for a certain disease or condition before any symptoms appear. All provinces offer newborn screening, although the tests offered vary from province to province. They may include:

  • Galactosemia test.
  • Phenylketonuria (PKU) screen.
  • Sickle cell disease test.
  • Thyroid hormone tests (for thyroid problems that are present at birth).

Why is this test done?

This test is done to find out whether your baby has certain diseases that could eventually cause problems. When discovered early, these diseases can be treated to improve the child's health.

How can you prepare for the test?

  • In general, you don't need to prepare your baby for this test.

What happens during the test?

  • Your baby's heel is pricked to get a tiny sample of blood.

What else should you know about the test?

  • If the test result is abnormal, remember that this is only a screening test. An abnormal result only means that further testing is needed.
  • Newborn screening is offered in Canada, but provinces vary on which tests they offer.
  • Your baby may also have other screening tests, such as a hearing test.

How long does the test take?

  • The test will take a few minutes.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have questions.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines your child takes. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your child's test results.

Where can you learn more?

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