The newborn screening test is often referred to as the PKU or heel-stick test. It tests babies for serious disorders and is usually performed when your baby is 24-48 hours old. Ideally, the specimen should be sent to the laboratory by the fastest way possible to prevent delay. The test is done to find out if your infant has a disease or condition for which early treatment can prevent death, mental retardation, or physical disablity. The newborn screening in perfromed by a phlebotomist pricking your baby's heel and then a few drops of the baby's blood are placed on a special filter paper. The paper is alloed to dry and then sent to the laboratory where several different tests will be performed. Parents who have no family history or problems and/or who have already had healthy children can still have other children affected with these disordes. In fact, most children with these disorders come from families with no previous history of these conditions.
Most babies with disorders look and act normal and seem perfectly healthy. The newborn screening test helps your doctor catch a problem with your baby before it makes him/her sick.