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Baby Lab Tests and Screenings

Most newborns are born healthy and normal. However, your physician’s routine examination may not be able to detect some atypical health issues. That’s why we are required by North Carolina state law to submit a filter paper blood spot sample for each infant directly to the NC State Laboratory of Public Health.*

Rest assured, the state laboratory test is routine. These tests are for metabolic diseases such as Phenylketonuria (PKU) and 34 other known disorders, some of which may cause mental retardation or possibly death, if untreated. To prevent the effects of disease, our Women’s Hospital samples are drawn after 24 hours of age.

Blood Tests

The routine laboratory blood tests your infant will receive include:

Blood Sugar: This test may be done to determine your baby’s blood sugar level, and the blood sample is collected from a needle prick on your newborn’s heel.

Amino acid, organic acid and fatty acid conditions: These tests also include detection of a condition called Phenylketonuria (PKU), a metabolic genetic disorder, which can lead to serious medical problems.

Galactosemia: This test determines if there is a high level of galactose in the blood caused by the congenital absence of an enzyme that changes galactose into glucose.

Thyroid: This test determines if the thyroid is working properly.

Sickle Cell: This test determines the presence of sickle cells that may cause severe, chronic anemia (insufficient healthy red blood cells).

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia: This test screens for an inherited disorder that affects the production of the hormone 17-hydroxy-progesterone.

Cystic Fibrosis: This test screens for an inherited disorder that involves respiratory complications and impaired growth.

Biotinidase: This test screens for a condition that affects the body’s ability to recycle the vitamin biotin.

Universal Hearing Screening

This test on your newborn checks for the possibility of undetected hearing loss. The hearing test lets us know if your baby will need special help with speech and language development. Please talk with your baby’s doctor about the test results.

Congenital Heart Screening

After your baby is 24 hours old, your nurse will perform a congenital heart screening. Your nurse will place an oxygen sensor on the baby’s right hand and then on either foot for a reading. This tool measures the percentage of oxygen in your baby’s blood and is not painful. Pulse oxygen screening does not detect all cases of congenital heart disease.


If your baby appears yellowish, especially the first few days after birth, your baby may have jaundice. This is a common condition that affects as many as half of all babies and an even greater number of premature babies. All babies are assessed for elevated bilirubin levels prior to discharge.

What is Jaundice and how is it treated?

Baby Lab Tests and Screenings