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What It Is

The Newborn Screening Program helps determine if a baby has certain health disorders. A healthy newborn can have serious metabolic or genetic disorders that cannot be detected without specific screening. If left undetected and untreated, these disorders can lead to slow growth, blindness, brain damage or possibly death.

Your newborn should be screened 24 hours after birth or before leaving the hospital. The screening process involves a collection of blood from your baby’s heel, pulse oximetry for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD), and hearing tests.

For more information on the heel stick for the newborn screening, watch What to Expect From Your Baby's First Test provided by Baby's First Test website.

For more information on pulse oximetry testing for CCHD, watch Pulse Ox for Newborns.

KY newborn screening brochureNewborn Screening Brochure

What you need to do before baby comes.



Newborn Screening Essentials

Your baby's health care provider will receive a screening report and notify you of the results. You have the right and are encouraged to ask your health care provider or nurse to explain the screening process and provide the results to you.

First, make sure your infant has a blood specimen drawn before he or she leaves the hospital and be sure the hospital has your accurate, current contact information including:

  • The health care provider the baby will see after going home.
  • Parent name, address and phone number.
  • Emergency name and phone number of someone other than the baby's parents.

If your infant was born at home, make sure your midwife, health care provider or health department conducts the screenings.

If you have questions about newborn screening and your infant's health, contact your infant's health care provider or the Department for Public Health Newborn Screening Program.

Act quickly if your health care provider contacts you about repeat tests or the need for a medical evaluation.

The parent resources section of this website provides links to brochures and information on the diseases included in Kentucky's Newborn Screening.

An abnormal test means your baby may have one of the health problems tested for in this screening. A negative test means your baby probably does not have any of these problems. Because this test is a screening and not a diagnostic test, there is a chance of false negative or false positive results. Your baby's health care provider may want to repeat the test or perform other tests to further verify screening results.

If your baby's newborn screening is positive, your baby's health care provider will talk with you about the next steps to take. You may be referred to a specialist for more testing and genetic counseling. If your baby is then diagnosed with a disease, treatment will begin to prevent or minimize health repercussions.

Occasionally, a baby may need additional lab work. When this is needed, the Newborn Screening Program will send a letter to the parent and the health care provider.  The repeat screening test is performed at no charge by the baby's current health care provider or local health department.

Sometimes, the Newborn Screening Program does not receive a copy of your baby's repeated results. This usually happens when a baby had a different health care provider listed at the hospital other than the one your baby is seeing now.

If you get a letter asking you to repeat your baby's newborn screening test, act quickly:

  • First contact your baby's doctor.
  • Explain to your doctor, you have received a letter to have a repeat newborn screening for your child and ask for a screening appointment as soon as possible.
  • Take the letter from the Newborn Screening Program with you and give it to the doctor. This way the doctor will know what is needed and how to send the results to the program.
  • The Newborn Screening Program does not have results as to why you received the letter.  Only your doctor has access to this information.

​The newborn screening is most accurate when the baby's blood is taken 24 hours or later after birth.  If your baby's blood was taken sooner than 24 hours after birth, a second sample will be taken.

However, if your baby was born prematurely or needed special care after birth such as blood transfusion or antibiotics, the timing of repeat testing may be different.

​Parent and Provider Resources

For information on specific disorders, select from the drop-down box below.