Newborn screening is a test done shortly after birth to look for treatable diseases that usually show no symptoms in the newborn period. Early detection of these diseases through newborn screening prevents serious health problems and can save lives. Every newborn in Ontario is offered screening for early identification of these rare diseases.There are two components to the screening:
Newborn Screening (NBS) – through bloodwork, this screen tests for 29 rare diseases which are treatable. If not detected early, these diseases can cause major problems for your child’s health and development.
Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) Screening – through pulse oximetry, this screen will test for heart conditions where the heart or major vessels around the heart may not have formed properly. These heart conditions can lead to serious medical problems during the first year of life if not treated.
A positive screening test does not mean that your baby has the disease. Further testing is required to confirm whether the disease is present or not and this will be undertaken in a timely fashion by our regional treatment centre for newborn screening.
The optimal time to do these tests is prior to discharge from the hospital. Newborn screening is not mandatory but is considered the standard of care for every baby and is highly recommended. Our practice is to routinely screen all newborns. Please inform us if you wish to decline screening for your baby. We encourage you to discuss this decision with a health care provider as newborn screening is the only way to find babies with these diseases early enough to prevent serious, long-term health problems.
You can find additional information on newborn screening on the Newborn Screening Ontario website at www.newbornscreening.on.ca/en.
Infant Hearing Screen
Being able to hear is important for children to develop language skills. A small proportion of babies are born with hearing loss and others may develop it at a later time. Hearing loss can cause delays in learning to talk and can also lead to behavioral and emotional problems, as well as school difficulties. If an infant has hearing loss, the sooner it is identified, the better it is for this child’s development.
All babies born in Ontario will have a hearing screen. This screen will occur after discharge, in the community. An Infant Hearing Program (IHP) audiologist will test your baby’s hearing in a quiet space using a small earphone and will assess each ear’s and the brain’s response to sounds. If the test shows that there might be a problem with one or both ears, your baby will be referred to an audiologist. Further testing will take place to confirm the presence of hearing loss and determine what treatment and services are required.
You can find additional information on the infant hearing screen program at www.ontario.ca/infanthearing.