Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit, the AAFP patient education website.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Newborn Screening


Am Fam Physician. 2017 Jun 1;95(11):online.

  See related article on newborn screening.

What is newborn screening?

All babies born in the United States get a blood test soon after birth to check for certain illnesses. They may also be tested for other problems, like hearing loss or heart conditions.

About 24 to 48 hours after your baby is born, a nurse takes a few drops of blood from your baby's heel for testing.

What tests are done?

All babies should be tested for 34 main conditions. However, every state has different laws that decide which conditions to screen for. Ask your doctor which tests are done in your state.

What happens when the results are in?

The results are usually ready within 24 hours of the test, but you may have already gone home from the hospital. If any of the tests are positive, your doctor or someone from your state's newborn screening program will call you.

A positive test does not mean that your child is sick. Some babies need to be retested. It is important to get retested quickly.

Why do we have newborn screening programs?

Babies with certain illnesses may look healthy at birth. Newborn screening finds the illnesses very early, and treatment can be started before there are serious problems. If not treated, some of these illnesses can cause lifelong health problems or early death.

It is important to talk to your doctor if you have any questions about the tests or illnesses.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor

Boston Children's Hospital

Save Babies Through Screening Foundation

Screening, Technology and Research in Genetics (STAR-G) Project

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and American Academy of Pediatrics

This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.


Copyright © 2017 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions

More in AFP

Editor's Collections


Sep 2021

Access the latest issue of American Family Physician

Read the Issue

Email Alerts

Don't miss a single issue. Sign up for the free AFP email table of contents.

Sign Up Now

Navigate this Article