Posts Tagged ‘blood test’

Understanding newborn screening results

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

newborn-screening-picture1Before your baby leaves the hospital, he or she has some special tests called newborn screening. Newborn screening checks for serious but rare conditions at birth. It includes blood, hearing and heart screening.

A baby can be born with a health condition but may not show any signs of the problem at first. If these conditions are found early with newborn screening, they can often be treated. All babies in the United States get newborn screening. But each state decides which tests are required. You can find out which conditions are tested for by your state here.

In most cases after your baby has had the newborn screening tests done, you won’t hear anymore about them. Most newborn screening results are normal and if that is the case, families are not contacted again. But you can always ask your baby’s health care provider for the results.

In rare cases when your baby’s screening results aren’t normal, you will receive a phone call about 2-3 weeks following the screening. This call can come from either the state newborn screening program or your baby’s health care provider and it usually means that your baby simply needs more testing.

A “positive” or “out-of-range” result means that the baby’s screening did indicate that the baby may be at higher risk of having one or more of the conditions included on the newborn screening panel. This does not mean that the baby has been diagnosed with a medical condition. In fact, most babies who receive positive results ultimately do not have a condition. However newborn screening tests are not diagnostic and therefore follow-up testing must be done.

If you do get one of these phone calls, don’t panic. Remember that most babies with out-of-range newborn screens are healthy and have normal follow-up test results. But it is important to get the follow-up testing done right away. One of the reasons these conditions have been chosen to be a part of newborn screening is because there is some intervention that can be done to help the baby. So the sooner you find out the results of a diagnostic test, the sooner treatment can begin, if necessary, and that is better for your baby.

Understanding the Rh factor

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

The Rh factor is an inherited protein found on the surface of red blood cells. Most people have this protein and are called Rh-positive. Some people, however, don’t have protein; they’re called Rh-negative.

In the U. S., about 15% of the white population, 5-8% of the African-American and Hispanic populations, and 1-2% of the Asian and Native American populations are Rh-negative. Being Rh-negative doesn’t affect a person’s health in any way.

Problems can arise, however, when an Rh-negative mother and an Rh-positive father conceive an Rh-positive baby. When this occurs, some of the fetus’s Rh-positive red blood cells may get into the mother’s bloodstream during pregnancy, labor and birth. Because red blood cells containing the Rh factor are foreign to the mother’s system, her body tries to fight them off by producing antibodies against them. This is called sensitization.

Once a woman becomes sensitized, her Rh antibodies can cross the placenta and destroy some of the red blood cells of an Rh-positive fetus. In a first pregnancy with an Rh-positive baby, there usually are no serious problems because the baby often is born before the mother is sensitized, or at least before the mother produces many Rh antibodies. However, a sensitized woman continues to produce Rh antibodies throughout her life. This means that in a second or later pregnancy, an Rh-positive baby is at risk for more severe Rh disease. Fortunately, treatment usually can prevent Rh disease.

A simple blood test can tell if a woman is Rh-negative. Every woman should be tested at her first prenatal visit, or before pregnancy, to find out if she is Rh-negative. Another blood test can show if an Rh-negative woman has become sensitized.

An unsensitized Rh-negative pregnant woman can be treated with shots of a purified blood product called Rh immune globulin (RhIg) to prevent sensitization. She most likely receives RhIg at 28 weeks of pregnancy and again within 72 hours of giving birth if a blood test shows that her baby is Rh-positive. She does not need an injection after delivery if her baby is Rh-negative. Some health care providers recommend an additional RhIg injection if a woman’s pregnancy goes past her due date.

An Rh-negative woman should be treated with RhIg after any situation in which the fetal red blood cells can mix with her blood, including: miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, induced abortion, amniocentesis, chorionic villus sampling (CVS)abdominal trauma, external cephalic version (when the health care provider attempts to turn a breech-position baby into head-down position before labor).

An Rh-negative woman does not need treatment with RhIg if blood tests show that the baby’s father is Rh-negative. If the father is Rh-negative, the baby is Rh-negative. An Rh-negative baby is not at risk of Rh disease.

Kids often misdiagnosed with food allergies

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

strawberryWhen I was little, I had asthma and a serious cough. My doctor thought I might be allergic to strawberries, shrimp and tomatoes. So I didn’t eat those foods for much of my childhood. And I really loved strawberries; still do.

But according to new research, my doctor’s theory may have been wrong. Food allergies are often misdiagnosed in children.

Researchers gave 125 children with allergies and eczema (a skin condition) “food challenge” tests. Surprise! Most of the kids could tolerate the foods they had been told to avoid. The study was done by National Jewish Hospital in Denver.

In a food challenge test, a person eats the foods he’s supposedly allergic to, under the supervision of a doctor. The doctor watches for reactions and is ready to provide treatment, if it’s needed. The test is expensive, but many insurance companies pay for it.

Sometimes blood tests are used to diagnose food allergies. But blood tests alone may not be enough for a solid diagnosis. A person may need blood tests, skin tests and food challenges before a diagnosis can be confirmed. It’s also good for patients to talk to their doctors about reactions they have.

If your child has been diagnosed with a food allergy on the basis of only a blood or skin test, you may want to speak to the doctor to see if more testing may be appropriate.

For more information, read Food Allergies and Baby on the March of Dimes Web site.

Another word on cord blood

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

In case you missed it, check out Pam’s post from last week on cord blood.  I find the whole thing fascinating. I’m not talking about the potential benefits of stem cell research either. I’m talking about the business behind it. Now that I’m expecting I’m targeted with advertisements on a regular basis to save my baby’s cord blood for personal use. Whether I’m flipping through a pregnancy magazine, shopping at a maternity store or watching TV, I can’t seem to escape the image of that little baby looking down at her belly button.

I’ve done a lot of reading (not including the pamphlets dropped in my shopping bag) and talked to my provider about it. Based on our family medical history, my husband and I decided against storing our babies cord blood in a private bank. We are very much in favor and interested in donating the cord blood however.

There is no cost to parents who donate their baby’s cord blood to a public bank. However, this option is not available everywhere. The National Marrow Donor Program provides a complete listing of participating hospitals; the program’s phone number is (800) 627-7692. Parents who choose to donate their baby’s cord blood must complete a lengthy parental health and disease questionnaire. The mother also must have blood tests for diseases such as hepatitis and HIV. In some cases, parents may have to pay for these tests if their insurance does not cover them.