Newborn Screening Information for Parents

Newborn screening is the practice of testing newborn babies for certain harmful or potentially fatal disorders. Rhode Island law requires that all birthing hospitals in Rhode screen every baby for 29 conditions, including hearing loss. All babies are tested because babies with these disorders often appear healthy at birth. Serious problems, including mental retardation and death, can be prevented if the disorders are discovered early.

Types of Newborn Screening

  • Newborn metabolic (bloodspot) screening tests are done using a small drop of blood that is taken from the heel of a newborn. This blood is used to screen for several serious conditions. more
  • A hearing screening is a test to tell if a baby might have a hearing loss. more
  • At most hospitals in Rhode Island, pulse oximetry screening is done to tell if a baby might have a heart condition. more

What You Should Do

Have your newborn's blood screened

  • The blood sample should be drawn after your baby is 24-48 hours old, but before your baby leaves the hospital.
  • Your baby’s doctor will contact you if the results suggest that your baby may have one of the conditions tested.
  • Sometimes a baby needs to be tested again. This does not necessarily mean that your baby has one of the conditions tested.
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Save Babies

Have your newborn's hearing screened

Babies born at Rhode Island birthing hospitals will have a pulse oximtery screening to measure their oxygen level. more

Have your newborn receive pulse oximetry screening

Babies born at Women and Infants, Kent, Newport, Memorial, and South County hospitals will have a pulse oximtery screening to measure their oxygen level. Landmark Medical Center is expected to start screening newborns in early 2014.


As a parent, you may refuse newborn screening for your baby only if your religious beliefs and practices do not allow this testing. If you refuse to have the test done, you will be asked to sign a paper stating that you refused to have your baby tested for these very serious disorders.