Newborn Screening and Genetics

Breathing a Sigh of Relief Thanks to Newborn Screening

By Elizabeth Jones, MPH, Specialist, Newborn Screening and Genetics, APHL

Baby Maya

Nothing quite prepared me for being a new parent.  I can sum up the first two months simply like this:

– Labor=challenging
– Changing diapers= messier than my worst cooking disasters
– Getting more than 5 hours of sleep= WOW!
– Watching her sleep and smile= amazing
– Cutting her nails= forget it
– Trip to the grocery story= lucky
– Getting her to drink from a bottle=frustrating
– Dropping her off at daycare for the first time= sad

Like most new parents, my husband and I had no idea what to expect when I went to the hospital in June to give birth to my daughter.  We didn’t know the sex, didn’t have a name, and didn’t know what lie ahead. The only thing that was on our minds was the health of our baby and a safe delivery.

Because newborn screening is my profession, I understood the value of getting Maya screened for heritable and metabolic conditions that are not always apparent at birth.  We were fortunate, very fortunate, that Maya was born healthy.  She was born in DC and received the DC panel of conditions.  Because she is a Maryland resident, she was screened a second time just before she was two weeks old.  Several states including Maryland either require or recommend a second screen for babies at one to two weeks.  My husband and I did not receive that dreaded phone call for a follow-up and I was able to breathe a sigh of relief when I asked the pediatrician for the results and saw that her screen came back normal.

Even though I had no idea what to expect when I walked into the hospital that day in June, I was confident in the public health system and knew that Maya would receive excellent care.  This September as we celebrate National Newborn Screening Awareness Month, I owe personal gratitude to a public health system that works.

The sleep deprivation may never wear off, but I still love coming to work every day.  Although, I can honestly say that being a parent is the best job I’ve ever had.

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