Newborn Health Screening

As a new parent, your baby’s arrival is exhilarating and joyful. Amidst the cuddles and coos, it’s essential to prioritise your newborn’s health. A way to do this is by going for a newborn health screening.

Why go for newborn health screening?

Newborn health screening identifies potential health issues early, providing timely intervention and treatment. These screenings are designed to detect a wide range of conditions that may not be apparent at birth but could impact your baby’s health in the long term. 

By identifying these conditions early, healthcare providers can initiate appropriate interventions, potentially preventing complications and ensuring your baby’s healthy development.

Newborn screening tests

Newborn health screening typically involves a series of tests performed shortly after birth. These tests are non-invasive and usually conducted before leaving the hospital or birthing centre. Let’s explore some of the standard newborn screening procedures:

1. Hearing screening

Hearing screening aims to detect hearing impairments early, allowing prompt intervention to prevent developmental delays in speech and language skills.

2. Bloodspot screening

This test screens for metabolic disorders, including phenylketonuria (PKU), cystic fibrosis, and sickle cell disease.

3. Bilirubin level testing

High levels of bilirubin can indicate jaundice, a common condition in newborns. Early treatment is essential to prevent complications.

4. Congenital hypothyroidism screening

This test assesses thyroid function, which is crucial for normal growth and development. Early detection and treatment can prevent developmental delays.

5. Visual screening

Visual screening helps identify eye conditions that may affect your baby’s vision.

6. Physical examination

A thorough physical examination checks for any visible abnormalities or signs of underlying health issues.

7. Blood group and Rh factor testing

This test determines your baby’s blood type and Rh factor, crucial for identifying potential blood compatibility issues.

8. Bacterial infections screening

This screening aims to detect bacterial infections that could pose serious health risks.

9. Vitamin K injection

Newborns are typically given a vitamin K injection to prevent bleeding disorders.

10. PKU reconfirmation test

This test is a follow-up to confirm or rule out phenylketonuria (PKU) if the initial screening results are positive.

11. Hemoglobinopathy screening

This screening checks for inherited blood disorders like sickle cell disease and thalassemia.

12. Serological tests for infectious diseases

These tests screen for infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B, and syphilis, which could be passed from the mother to the baby.

Newborn metabolic screening

Metabolic screening for newborns is a vital component of newborn health screening. A small blood sample is analysed to assess your baby’s metabolic health. It aims to detect inherited metabolic disorders that may go unnoticed at birth but could lead to significant health issues if left untreated. 

Metabolic screening is typically recommended for all newborns shortly after birth. It is a standard procedure in many countries and is often included in routine newborn health screening programs.

Low birth weight in newborns

Low birth weight (LBW) refers to underweight newborns weighing less than 2,500 grams, while very low birth weight (VLBW) infants weigh less than 1,500 grams. Low birth weight can significantly affect a baby’s health and development, including respiratory issues and feeding difficulties.

Reasons for low birth weight in newborns

Low birth weight is a concern for many parents and can result from various factors, including:

  1. Preterm birth: Babies born prematurely are at risk of low birth weight due to incomplete development in the womb.
  2. Poor maternal nutrition: Inadequate maternal nutrition during pregnancy can affect fetal growth and contribute to low birth weight.
  3. Teenage pregnancy: Teenage mothers may be more likely to have babies with low birth weight due to factors such as inadequate prenatal care and socio-economic challenges.
  4. Multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, etc.): Carrying multiple babies is a risk factor for low birth weight due to limited space and resources in the womb.
  5. Maternal health conditions: Maternal health issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes can impact fetal growth and contribute to low birth weight.
  6. Substance abuse: Substance abuse during pregnancy, including tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs, can impair fetal growth and development.
  7. Inadequate prenatal care: Lack of proper prenatal care can lead to undetected health issues that may contribute to low birth weight.
  8. Maternal age: Advanced or very young maternal age is associated with low birth weight.
  9. Infections during pregnancy: Certain infections, such as cytomegalovirus and rubella, can affect fetal growth and development.
  10. Uterine or placental problems: Issues with the uterus or placenta can restrict fetal growth and lead to low birth weight.
  11. Genetic factors: Genetic factors can influence fetal growth and contribute to variations in birth weight.
  12. Short interpregnancy intervals: Short intervals between pregnancies may increase the risk of low birth weight in subsequent pregnancies.
  13. Race and ethnicity: Certain ethnic groups may have a higher prevalence of low birth weight newborns due to various socio-economic and genetic factors.
  14. Low socio-economic status: Socio-economic factors such as poverty, inadequate access to healthcare, and environmental stressors can contribute to low birth weight.
  15. Stress and emotional factors: Maternal stress and emotional factors during pregnancy can impact fetal development and contribute to low birth weight.
  16. Environmental exposures: Exposure to environmental toxins and pollutants can lead to low birth weight.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Some newborns may require specialised medical care due to health complications or preterm birth. Neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) are equipped to provide medical support to these fragile infants, ensuring they receive the necessary medical attention and monitoring. The following are some services provided by the NICU.

Respiratory support

Respiratory support may include mechanical ventilation, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), or oxygen therapy to help the baby breathe more comfortably and effectively.

Nutritional support

Specialised formulas or breast milk fortified with additional nutrients may be administered to meet the baby’s unique nutritional needs and support growth and development.

Intravenous medications

Intravenous (IV) medications are administered under close supervision by healthcare providers to ensure proper dosing and effectiveness while minimising the risk of complications.

Phototherapy

In the NICU, babies with jaundice may receive phototherapy, which involves exposing their skin to special lights that help break down excess bilirubin and alleviate symptoms.

Surfactant therapy

Underdeveloped lungs in premature babies may require surfactant therapy to improve lung function and lower the risk of respiratory complications.

Infection control

Strict protocols for hand hygiene, sterile technique, and isolation precautions are followed to minimise the risk of healthcare-associated infections.

Neurological monitoring

Infants in the NICU may undergo neurological monitoring to assess brain function and detect any signs of neurological abnormalities or developmental delays. 

Cardiovascular support

Medication therapy, fluid management, and mechanical support devices may be used to stabilise the baby’s cardiovascular system.

Newborn health screening in Singapore

Newborn health screening ensures your baby’s health and well-being. By detecting potential health issues early, healthcare providers can initiate timely interventions and treatments. 

At SWC Medical Group, we are committed to providing supporting you on your journey to parenthood. Your baby’s health is our top priority, and we look forward to partnering with you to provide the best possible care.

Schedule a consultation today.

Frequently asked questions

Newborn health screening is optional but highly recommended. However, opting out of screening may pose risks to your baby’s health, as certain conditions may go undetected without screening. 

Newborn health screening is optional but highly recommended. However, opting out of screening may pose risks to your baby’s health, as certain conditions may go undetected without screening. 

The newborn health screening process is simple and non-invasive. It typically involves collecting a small blood sample from your baby’s heel and conducting other necessary tests, such as hearing screening and physical examination. 

Yes. Your healthcare provider can discuss the options and help determine the appropriate course of action based on your baby’s risk factors and medical history.

If a potential metabolic issue is identified during newborn health screening, further diagnostic testing may be required to confirm the diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.

Our neonatologist

Dr Lee Le Ye

Dr Lee is a neonatologist in Singapore, diagnosing and treating a wide range of neonatal conditions and disorders. She is skilled in providing advanced respiratory support, nutritional management, and developmental care for premature and critically ill infants. Dr Lee is also experienced in managing complex medical conditions and coordinating multidisciplinary care for babies with special health needs.

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Singapore Women's & Children's
Medical Group?

Full spectrum of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and tertiary Paediatric services

We provide a full range of services in obstetrics, gynaecology, and paediatric care. Our obstetrics and gynaecology specialists have maternal-fetal medicine, fertility, gynaecological oncology, and urogynecology expertise. Our Paediatric specialists provide general paediatric care and specialise in neonatology, neurology, child development, allergy, immunology, and rheumatology.

Team of experienced medical specialists

Our obstetrics, gynaecology and paediatric specialists bring extensive experience and diverse expertise in various subspecialties. This enables us to offer comprehensive and coordinated care to our patients. Cross-referrals and joint management ensure convenience and continuity in their healthcare journey.

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Our Group Chief Executive Officer, Directors and management team are actively involved in the management of our medical clinics, which enables us to respond quickly to the requirements of our patients and to make decisions promptly.