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What is a newborn screening test?

Most babies are born healthy and stay that way. There is a small percentage of infants who are born healthy and become sick with a metabolic disorder. Fortunately, in Australia, there is a screen for such disorders before they become obvious. Hatch Private Maternity midwife Renee Eggmolesse explains more about the newborn screening test provided free-of-charge to all Australian infants.

 

What is the newborn screening test?

The newborn screening test routinely screens for rare conditions and is done via a simple heel prick blood test within three days of baby’s birth, before symptoms of any conditions are obvious.  Newborn screening can pick up signs of more than 25 metabolic conditions, including congenital hypothyroidism, cystic fibrosis, and amino acid disorders like phenylketonuria (PKU)  and galactosemia.

Screening tests won’t tell you that your baby has a condition. It will tell you that your baby is at increased risk for a condition. In the very unlikely event that your baby screens positive for a condition, your baby’s doctor/paediatrician can verify the results and discuss treatment options with you. Early diagnosis means treatment can be started immediately and it helps with the prevention of serious intellectual or physical disability.

 

Do I need to give consent for newborn screening?

Your midwife will ask for your permission to do a newborn screening test and require you to sign the newborn screening card. You can decline to have the screening done, however in this instance, if your baby becomes ill at any stage, you’ll need to tell your doctor that your baby didn’t have a newborn screening. This will help them with a diagnosis.

 

How is my baby’s blood sample taken?

A heel prick is a quick and safe way to take blood and minimise the amount of blood being taken from a newborn baby. A midwife will normally do this test, taking your baby’s heel and pricking it to collect a few drops of blood on special filter paper. The filter paper dries, and it is sent to a laboratory where your baby’s blood is tested. Ask your midwife if you’d like to delay testing, to find other places where the test can be carried out.

 

How long do results take?

Results are usually completed within six weeks. You will only be contacted if your baby’s test results come back abnormal, and with instructions about what to do next.  As “false positives” can occur, a second test is often needed. Sometimes too, a second test is needed for reasons including if there wasn’t enough blood to perform the screening test or if test results weren’t clear.

Almost all babies have normal results. It is only about 1 in 1000 babies in Australia that have an abnormal result.

 

What happens when the tests and results are finished?

The National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council requires screening cards to be stored in a secure location for 28 years. The screening card is stored so your baby’s blood sample can be found easily if more tests are needed. There is a contact number on the consent form, where you can request the screening card to be destroyed after two years.

 

For further reading and sources about newborn screening tests visit:

COVID-19: support for pregnant women and their families

It is not possible to ignore the COVID-19 pandemic. There is information, stress and uncertainty everywhere. Our Hatch clinicians and staff want to support all our pregnant women and their families during this time.

We are making a few changes to keep us all as safe and well, as is possible. We have asked that when you attend Hatch Private Maternity, that you come in on your own (with the exception of your baby for postnatal visits). We know that this is a time that you want to share with your support team but in an effort to keep us all healthy and able to continue caring for you, it is greatly appreciated if you can come to see us without your partner or other children. We can make other arrangements to keep your partner involved in your care you can discuss this at your next visit. We have also asked that if you have symptoms or are self- isolating that you contact us to re-arrange your appointment You can find details here.

You will notice our waiting rooms are more spaced out, your appointments with your Hatch clinician will be a little different from normal but our aim is, as always, to keep you and your baby safe and healthy.

We have had to temporarily postponed our parents’ group, until it is deemed safe enough to have face to face group meetings. We will miss catching up with you and your babies but encourage you to continue to stay connected through online platforms. (There are some suggested support groups in the link below.

If you become unwell during this time, testing for Covid-19 is limited to those who have symptoms AND have travelled in the last 14 days OR those that have had direct contact with a confirmed case. If you think you have become unwell with Covid-19 and meet these conditions, you should attend either your GP or a fever clinic close to you. Please telephone them before you attend. Some testing can be done at the Mater Adults Emergency, please only attend the Pregnancy Assessment Centre (PAC) unless you have a pregnancy related concern.

There is more information about testing here: QLD Government COVID 19 Testing.

We know that having a baby is a life changing event, add in a pandemic and its completely reasonable to have more feelings of anxiety or low mood. Please discuss this with your Hatch Clinician or GP or seek other support from organisations such as PANDA 1300 726 306 ( 24/7 support telephone).
Additional Trusted resources you may find helpful during this time are:

We hope that you and your loved ones stay healthy and safe during this time.

Important COVID-19 Update

As COVID-19 becomes more prevalent and community transmission increases, we are taking additional measures to help protect our patients and staff. As a consequence, we have implemented the following additional protective measures:

 

We request that all patients who:

 

  • have tested positive for COVID-19,
  • have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19,
  • have been in contact with any person who has returned from international travel in the last 14 days, or
  • are feeling unwell, to please contact Hatch Private Maternity to reschedule your appointment on (07) 3332 1950.

 

If you are attending our clinic for an appointment, we request that only the patient attends our clinic for their appointment. Please help us to maximise social distancing by not bringing children or partners along.

 

We have taken extra precautionary measures in the practice which may affect wait times, so we ask for your patience during this time.When attending our waiting rooms, please ensure you:

 

  1. use the sanitiser available to clean your hands on arrival,
  2. use social distancing when dealing with our staff and other patients in our practice. A distance of 1.5 metres is considered optimal,
  3. avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and
  4. sneeze or cough into a tissue or your elbow if necessary.

 

N.B: We have also postponed or cancelled all scheduled in person events until further notice.

 

Our commitment is to minimise the risk to our patients and staff.

 

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

 

For additional information, please read the following message for pregnant women and their families from The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians Gynaecologists (RANZCOG): https://ranzcog.edu.au/statements-guidelines/covid-19-statement.