Birth Anomalies and Newborn Screening

Because Oregon cares...

Mom feeds baby

...every baby born in Oregon, receives health screenings shortly after birth.  Knowing early about any special health needs can lead to healthier children and families.  Some conditions must be treated right away to prevent developmental delay, physical disability, or even death.  Some of the conditions found in screenings may be tracked by public health surveillance systems to make sure that care is being provided as soon as possible.

When screening raises a concern, babies can get further testing, be treated swiftly, and in many cases, live long healthy lives.  In Oregon, health insurance pays for this screening and any treatment needed.  If you do not have insurance, or have a home birth, you can get a free kit and send it in to the state public health laboratory.  If your family has religious objections to these tests, you can opt out by signing a religious objection form.

Newborn hearing and health screenings

baby in hospital

Heel Stick: Following a small poke, a few drops of blood are squeezed from your baby's heel to look for metabolic, genetic, and blood conditions. There are 49 rare conditions that labs are looking for that must be treated or they can cause permanent damage or even death. Sometimes this damage is done before the baby shows any signs that anything is wrong.  That makes it important to catch these conditions early. More information about these screenings can be found at Oregon Newborn Screening, Oregon Health Authority Newborn Screening, and Baby's First Test .

Hearing Screening: Newborns' ears are checked quickly and gently using small earphones and soft sounds. Many babies sleep through the screening. Infants who do not pass the screening need more testing to rule out a hearing loss. When  hearing loss is found, families are referred to early intervention services for aiding and supporting their child's language learning. More information about this screening may be found at Oregon Health Authority Newborn Hearing.

Pulse Oximetry: Also called "pulse ox", this painless procedure measures the amount of oxygen in your baby's blood using only a sensor briefly placed on the outside of the skin. Pulse oximetry can help show if an infant's heart and lungs are healthy and supplying enough oxygen to their body. This screening can help find out if a baby may have a serious heart problem that may not be obvious in the first days of life.