Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Newborn Screening?

You will be glad to know that all newborns in Alabama are required by law to have a blood test shortly after birth to screen for metabolic and other inheritable disorders. The Alabama Newborn Screening Program helps identify babies who may have one of these disorders and can alert the baby's doctor to the need for further testing and special care. With early diagnosis and medical treatment, complications from these serious, but uncommon, disorders can usually be prevented. This website will help answer your questions about the screening tests.

May I Refuse These Tests?

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

My Baby Looks Healthy. Should the Tests Still Be Done?

Yes! Even if your baby looks healthy, he or she may have one of these disorders. Most babies identified by the Alabama Newborn Screening Program show no signs of the disorder immediately after birth.

How Will My Baby Be Tested?

A sample of blood is taken by pricking the baby's heel. This sample is then placed on special paper, which is sent to the State Laboratory for testing. The lab uses this one sample of blood to test for all of the disorders. The sample is usually taken on the day the baby is discharged from the hospital.

Your baby's blood is tested for the following disorders:

  • Phenylketonuria (PKU)
  • Congenital Hypothyroidism
  • Sickle Cell Disease and related red blood cell disorders
  • Galactosemia
  • Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH)
  • Biotinidase Deficiency
  • Amino Acid Disorders
  • Fatty Acid Oxidation Disorders
  • Organic Acid Disorders
  • Cystic Fibrosis

How Will I Learn of My Baby's Test Results?

The results of the tests are sent directly to your baby's doctor and the hospital where your baby was born. You can ask about the results when you take your baby in for a regular check-up. Generally, parents are notified only if retesting or further testing is needed. If your baby's doctor asks you to bring your baby in for retesting, do so as soon as possible. Even if your baby's screening test is normal, there are many disorders for which the Alabama Newborn Screening Program does not test. It is very important for your baby to have regular check-ups and good medical care.

If the Test Needs to be Repeated, Does that Mean My Baby Has a Disorder?

Not always. There are several reasons why your baby's doctor may have told you that your baby needs to be retested. Some of these reasons include:

  • Unsatisfactory Specimen
    There is not enough blood to complete all the required screening tests, or the sample does not work for other reasons.
  • Abnormal Test Result
    An abnormal test result means that a disorder may be present. If the repeat test indicates that further evaluation is needed, your baby's doctor will be called right away. Note: Premature or low-birth-weight newborns are more likely to have abnormal test results on the first specimen even if a disorder is not present.

Where Can I Get More Information?

Contact us and/or visit the Links to NBS Information page.


Page last updated: April 17, 2017