News and Events

Alabama Hospitals Recognized

Congratulations to the following hospitals for their outstanding effort in newborn screening specimen collection. They had no unsatisfactory newborn screening specimens during the months shown below. Their efforts set the standard for other hospitals participating in newborn screening across the state.

October 2017

  • Monroe County Hospital
  • Russell Medical Center

November 2017

  • D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital

December 2017

  • Citizens Baptist Medical Center
  • Marshall Medical Center North

The following hospitals are also recognized for meeting the Alabama Newborn Screening Program's state goal by submitting at least 95% satisfactory newborn screening specimens for the months shown.

October 2017

  • Athens-Limestone Hospital
  • Baptist Medical Center South
  • Coosa Valley Medical Center
  • DeKalb Regional Medical Center
  • Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center
  • Springhill Medical Center

November 2017

  • DeKalb Regional Medical Center
  • Grandview Medical Center
  • Marshall Medical Center North
  • Russell Medical Center
  • UAB Hospital

December 2017

  • Children's of Alabama
  • DeKalb Regional Medical Center
  • Helen Keller Hospital
  • Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children
  • Princeton Baptist Medical Center
  • Russell Medical Center
  • Southeast Alabama Medical Center
  • UAB Hospital
  • Walker Baptist Medical Center

The Newborn Screening Program is committed to the improvement of specimen collection and continues to work with all birthing facilities across the state to reduce the number of rejected specimens. This includes the availability of newborn screening collection training which is provided by our Newborn Screening Nurse Educator, Seratia Johnson.

Newborn Screening Mobile Applications Available

There are several free mobile applications available for newborn screening providers and parents. One app available for medical providers is through the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG). This app allows users to access ACT Sheets, which provide short term actions a health care provider should follow in communicating with the family and determining the appropriate steps in the follow-up of an infant with a positive newborn screening result.

Another new mobile app is available and provided as a free service by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta to aid health care professionals in screening for critical congenital heart disease. A website version of this application is available at Pulse Ox Tool. The algorithm in this application is used under a license granted by the American Academy of Pediatrics and was recommended by Kemper et al. in "Strategies for Implementing Screening for Critical Congenital Heart Disease." (Pediatrics.2011;128(5):e1259-67). This is the same algorithm recommended in Alabama and found in the Hospital Guidelines for Implementing Pulse Oximetry Screening for Critical Congenital Heart Disease. These general clinical guidelines are provided for use by healthcare professionals in evaluating treatment options. They are not a substitute for individual professional judgment.Grayson Ethridge

Family Highlight: Newborn Screening Saved My Baby's Life

First time parents Kyle and Leslie Ethridge had an uneventful pregnancy and birth of their first child Grayson in December 2012. Grayson was evaluated by his pediatrician after delivery, and the new parents were told everything was fine. The night before they were scheduled to leave the hospital the nurse took Grayson for routine vital signs and also performed the pulse oximetry screen, which revealed a 97% oxygen saturation in his right hand and a 87% oxygen saturation in his foot.

Grayson was quickly transferred to Baptist Medical Center South and then flown to Birmingham for open heart surgery. He was diagnosed with ventricular/atrial septal defect and an interrupted aortic arch. Grayson sees a pediatric cardiologist on a regular basis and has had superb news every visit. According to Mrs. Ethridge, "Family, friends, and faith kept us sane during this trial. We have come out stronger and are very proactive in raising awareness for pulse ox screening to detect congenital heart defects. Newborn screening saved my baby's life."

The History of Newborn Screening

The first test of newborn screening was developed in 1963 by Dr. Robert Guthrie to detect phenylketonuria, otherwise known as PKU. It is a serious metabolic disorder in which the body is unable to metabolize certain amino acids and can lead to permanent mental retardation if not detected and treated early. Before the inception of newborn screening, children with PKU were often institutionalized due to the severity of developmental disability.

Newborn screening has continued to expand over the years and currently includes more than thirty disorders. In the early 2000s, the introduction of the sophisticated tandem mass spectrometry device allowed for multiple newborn screening tests to be performed simultaneously resulting in quick, accurate, and cost effective screening.

In Alabama, screening for PKU began in 1965 with the addition of congenital hypothyroidism in 1978, hemoglobinopathies (sickle cell) in 1987, galactosemia in 1992, congenital adrenal hyperplasia in 1994, and other metabolic disorders detected through tandem mass in 2004. In 2008, Alabama began screening for cystic fibrosis and officially added universal newborn hearing screening to its panel of disorders even though most facilities had begun voluntarily screening in 2001. Most recently, Alabama added screening for critical congenital heart disease. It is anticipated that by the end of 2016, we will be screening for 31 primary conditions with the addition of severe combined immunodeficiency.

The Alabama Newborn Screening Program identifies 150-200 babieseach year with a metabolic, endocrine, hematological, or other congenital disorder. These babies usually look and act healthy at birth. Most affected babies have the opportunity to grow up healthy and develop normally through a simple blood screen that saves babies from death or disability.

2017 Alabama Newborn Screening Conference

The 2017 Alabama Newborn Screening Conference was held August 18, 2017 at the Embassy Suites Montgomery Hotel and Conference Center. There were more than 200 participants including pediatric providers, nurses, laboratory technicians, parent advocates, and audiologists. We appreciate all speakers and attendees for making it a huge success.

If you were unable to attend or would like to review any information, presentations are available through the Alabama Public Health Training Network.

Additional presentations can be viewed for earlier conferences:
2011 Newborn Screening Conference - Family Perspectives
2015 Newborn Screening Conference

Newborn Screening Newsletters

Although there are no new issues available, you may view all past issues of the Newborn Screening Newsletter.

Page last updated: February 1, 2018