Birth Anomalies and Newborn Screenings

Because Oregon cares...

...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 or treat developmental delay, physical disability, or even death.  Some of the conditions found in screenings are tracked by public health surveillance systems to ensure 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.  Some families are eligible for a free kit to send in to the state public health laboratory.  If your family has objections to these tests, you can opt out by signing a religious objection form.

Newborn hearing and health screenings

Newborns get three screening tests before they leave the hospital or birth center or before they are 48 hours old. Any unusual findings are followed up by a healthcare team.

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 the Oregon lab looks for.  They must be treated or permanent damage or even death can occur. Sometimes this damage happens before the baby shows any signs that anything is wrong.  That makes it important to catch these conditions early. Read more about these screenings: Oregon Newborn Screening, Northwest Regional Screening Program, 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 show unusual results need comprehensive testing to rule out a hearing loss. When a hearing loss is found, families are referred to Early Intervention Services for aiding and supporting their child's language learning.  Read more about this screening: Oregon Health Authority Early Hearing Detection and Intervention.

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 looks for serious heart problems that may not be obvious in the first days of life.

Birth Anomalies Surveillance System

A baby with cleft lip looks ahead holding out their hand as a woman holds them to her chest.
Close up of baby looking over parent's shoulder.

Oregon's Birth Anomalies Surveillance System (BASS) is a program of the Oregon health authority. Its purpose is to track the number of birth anomaly conditions in Oregon. Birth anomalies (also called "birth defects") are physical differences that occur as a baby is developing in the womb.  These physical differences can be relatively minor or can cause serious health or quality of life concerns. The BASS tracks 50 different birth anomalies.  The Oregon Family to Family Health Information Center is partners with the BASS program to connect families affected by birth anomalies with helpful resources.

Resources and Information about Specific Birth Anomalies and Conditions


Inclusion of resources on our site does not imply endorsement nor does exclusion mean we do not think it is valuable. We work to keep our list of resources current and relevant but it is not exhaustive.

Contact Us

tel: 855-323-6744 (English) o 833-990-9930 (español) or