Newborn metabolic screening is the practice of testing every newborn for certain harmful or potentially fatal disorders that are not otherwise apparent at birth. Newborn screening tests take place before the newborn leaves the hospital. Babies are tested to identify serious or life-threatening (and for the most part preventable or treatable) diseases before symptoms begin. These diseases are usually rare. However, if they are not accurately diagnosed and treated, they can cause mental retardation, severe illness, and premature death in newborns. Many of these are metabolic disorders, often called “inborn errors of metabolism.” Other disorders that may be detected through screening are endocrine or hematologic. In most states, this testing is mandatory. More than 98% of all children born in the United States are tested for these disorders.
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