Early identification of infants with potentially serious conditions

All babies born in Vermont have the opportunity to receive a newborn screening test to check for rare but serious diseases which may not be apparent at birth. Vermont screens for 31 different conditions which could result in serious health problems, developmental delays, or in rare instances, death if not identified and treated early.

The Vermont Department of Health has put together this website to provide information about newborn screening, including frequently asked questions, information for families and health care providers, and the variety of programs which support children and youth with special health needs.

For more information, see our brochure or contact the Newborn Screening program.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Newborn Screening?

Newborn screening identifies conditions that can affect a child's long-term health or survival. Early detection, diagnosis, and intervention can prevent death or disability and enable children to reach their full potential.

Each year, millions of babies in the U.S. are routinely screened and are also tested for hearing loss prior to discharge from a hospital or birthing center. Screening is also available for babies born at home.

Why does my baby need newborn screening tests?

  • Most babies are healthy when they are born. 
  • We test all babies because a few babies look healthy but have a rare health problem, which can be identified through screening.
  • If we find problems early, we can help prevent developmental delays, serious health problems, or even death.

How will my baby be tested?

  • Before you leave the hospital, a nurse will take a few drops of blood from your baby’s heel. 
  • The hospital will send the blood samples to a newborn screening laboratory.
  • Babies born at home can have this done by their Certified Professional Midwife, in their health care provider's office, or at their local hospital’s out-patient laboratory.

How will I get the test results?

  • Parents are notified by their health professional of test results if there is a problem. 
  • Ask about results when you see your baby’s health professional.

Why do some babies need to be retested?

  • Your baby will need to be retested if the screening is done before the baby is 24 hours old. 
  • Some babies need to be retested because there is a problem with the way the blood sample was taken.
  • A few babies need to be retested because the first test showed a possible health problem.
  • Your baby’s health professional or the Department of Health Newborn Screening Program will contact you if your baby needs to be retested. They will tell you why the baby needs to be retested and what to do next.
  • If your baby needs to be retested, get it done right away. 
  • Make sure that your hospital and health professional have your correct address and phone number.

How are disorders treated?

Sometimes babies are found to have one of the rare disorders for which Vermont screens. If that happens, you and your baby's health care provider will be referred to a team of specialists.

These specialists will recommend a treatment plan, which may include a special diet, medication, or other types of treatment. They will work closely with your baby's health care provider.

Information for Families

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How the Screening Works:                                        

At least twenty-four hours after birth, a nurse in the birth hospital will obtain drops of blood by pricking the baby’s heel. Babies born at home can have this done by their Certified Professional Midwife, in their primary care provider’s office, or at their local hospital out-patient laboratory.

These blood drops are placed on a special card (“filter paper”) which is sent to a laboratory for testing. If any of the tests indicate the possibility of a disorder, the baby’s care provider is notified immediately. Sometimes another filter paper is all that is needed to make sure there are no problems. Occasionally, a baby will need further tests to make sure everything is fine.

If a Rare Condition Is Found:

If the baby does have one of the rare conditions, the parents, care provider, and specialists will work together to provide the baby with the care they need. Vermont Children with Special Health Needs offers a variety of programs which support families in these efforts.

Making an Informed Choice about Screening

Each year, a few parents choose to not have newborn screening done. These parents will be given information by their nurse, doctor, or midwife. It is extremely important that they understand the possible problems which could arise if a baby does have a condition which is not identified and treated early. The parents will be asked to sign a form saying that they understand this information but choose not to have their baby screened.

Information for Health Care Providers

Forms & Information

Testing

Provider Letters

Filter Paper & Supply Forms

      Vermont Newborn Screening Program
      Vermont Department of Health
      108 Cherry St., PO Box 70 Drawer 28
      Burlington, VT 05401

      Tel: 800-660-4427 (VT Only) or 802-951-5180
      Fax: 802-951-1218

Guidelines & Protocols

National & Regional Resources

Critical Congenital Heart Disease Screening for Newborns

Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) is a problem in the way a baby’s heart develops before the baby is born or the way blood flows through the heart. It is one of the most common birth defects in babies.

Some conditions can cause low oxygen levels in a baby's blood. Pulse Oximetry Screening is a painless test to measure a baby's oxygen level, and is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Heart Association, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Pulse Oximetry Screening is performed at the birth hospital or by a home birthing midwife..

Resources for Health Care Providers

Recommendation for Pulse Oximetry Screening for Critical Congenital Heart Disease

Toolkit: Congenital Heart Disease Screening Program

Video: Pulse Oximetry for Providers

Children's National Medical Center video for health care providers about screening for critical congenital heart disease.

 

 

 

 Contact Information

Vermont Newborn Screening Program
Vermont Department of Health
108 Cherry St., PO Box 70
Burlington, VT 05402

Tel: 800-660-4427 (VT Only) or 802-951-5180
Fax: 802-951-1218