News and Events

Register now for the 2017 Newborn Screening Conference

The Alabama Newborn Screening Program is delighted to announce our upcoming conference on Friday, August 18, 2017, at the Embassy Suites Montgomery Hotel and Conference Center. Historically, this event has served to bring together a great group of health care professionals with a shared interest in providing the best care possible to Alabama's newborn population. We would love to see you there! Please visit the University of South Alabama Center for Continuing Education for more information and to register.

Alabama Hospitals Recognized

Congratulations to the following hospitals for their outstanding effort in newborn screening specimen collection. They had no unsatisfactory newborn screening specimens during the months shown below. Their efforts set the standard for other hospitals participating in newborn screening across the state.

March 2017

  • Cullman Regional Medical Center

April 2017

  • DeKalb Regional Medical Center
  • Russell Medical Center

May 2017

  • Coosa Valley Medical Center
  • D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital
  • Marshall Medical Center North

The following hospitals are also recognized for meeting the Alabama Newborn Screening Program's state goal by submitting at least 95% satisfactory newborn screening specimens for the months shown.

March 2017

  • Coosa Valley Medical Center
  • Decatur Morgan Hospital - Parkway Campus
  • DeKalb Regional Medical Center
  • Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children
  • Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center
  • Princeton Baptist Medical Center
  • South Baldwin Regional Medical Center
  • Southeast Alabama Medical Center
  • St. Vincent's East
  • UAB Hospital
  • UAB Medical West

April 2017

  • Highlands Medical Center
  • Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center
  • St. Vincent's East
  • UAB Hospital

May 2017

  • Children's of Alabama
  • Cullman Regional Medical Center
  • East Alabama Medical Center
  • Highlands Medical Center
  • Mobile Infirmary Medical Center
  • Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center
  • St. Vincent's East
  • UAB Hospital

The Newborn Screening Program is committed to the improvement of specimen collection and continues to work with all birthing facilities across the state to reduce the number of rejected specimens. This includes the availability of newborn screening collection training which is provided by our Newborn Screening Nurse Educator, Seratia Johnson.

Newborn Screening Mobile Applications Available

There are several free mobile applications available for newborn screening providers and parents. One app available for medical providers is through the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG). This app allows users to access ACT Sheets, which provide short term actions a health care provider should follow in communicating with the family and determining the appropriate steps in the follow-up of an infant with a positive newborn screening result.

There is also a free app designed for parents of infants with hearing loss is available. The CDC Early Hearing 411 app has been developed by the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) team. The main purpose for this app is to provide a way for parents to manage their children's early hearing care information and share resources.

Another new mobile app is available and provided as a free service by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta to aid health care professionals in screening for critical congenital heart disease. A website version of this application is available at Pulse Ox Tool. The algorithm in this application is used under a license granted by the American Academy of Pediatrics and was recommended by Kemper et al. in "Strategies for Implementing Screening for Critical Congenital Heart Disease." (Pediatrics.2011;128(5):e1259-67). This is the same algorithm recommended in Alabama and found in the Hospital Guidelines for Implementing Pulse Oximetry Screening for Critical Congenital Heart Disease. These general clinical guidelines are provided for use by healthcare professionals in evaluating treatment options. They are not a substitute for individual professional judgment.Grayson Ethridge

Family Highlight: Newborn Screening Saved My Baby's Life

First time parents Kyle and Leslie Ethridge had an uneventful pregnancy and birth of their first child Grayson in December 2012. Grayson was evaluated by his pediatrician after delivery, and the new parents were told everything was fine. The night before they were scheduled to leave the hospital the nurse took Grayson for routine vital signs and also performed the pulse oximetry screen, which revealed a 97% oxygen saturation in his right hand and a 87% oxygen saturation in his foot.

Grayson was quickly transferred to Baptist Medical Center South and then flown to Birmingham for open heart surgery. He was diagnosed with ventricular/atrial septal defect and an interrupted aortic arch. Grayson sees a pediatric cardiologist on a regular basis and has had superb news every visit. According to Mrs. Ethridge, "Family, friends, and faith kept us sane during this trial. We have come out stronger and are very proactive in raising awareness for pulse ox screening to detect congenital heart defects. Newborn screening saved my baby's life."

The History of Newborn Screening

The first test of newborn screening was developed in 1963 by Dr. Robert Guthrie to detect phenylketonuria, otherwise known as PKU. It is a serious metabolic disorder in which the body is unable to metabolize certain amino acids and can lead to permanent mental retardation if not detected and treated early. Before the inception of newborn screening, children with PKU were often institutionalized due to the severity of developmental disability.

Newborn screening has continued to expand over the years and currently includes more than thirty disorders. In the early 2000s, the introduction of the sophisticated tandem mass spectrometry device allowed for multiple newborn screening tests to be performed simultaneously resulting in quick, accurate, and cost effective screening.

In Alabama, screening for PKU began in 1965 with the addition of congenital hypothyroidism in 1978, hemoglobinopathies (sickle cell) in 1987, galactosemia in 1992, congenital adrenal hyperplasia in 1994, and other metabolic disorders detected through tandem mass in 2004. In 2008, Alabama began screening for cystic fibrosis and officially added universal newborn hearing screening to its panel of disorders even though most facilities had begun voluntarily screening in 2001. Most recently, Alabama added screening for critical congenital heart disease. It is anticipated that by the end of 2016, we will be screening for 31 primary conditions with the addition of severe combined immunodeficiency.

The Alabama Newborn Screening Program identifies 150-200 babieseach year with a metabolic, endocrine, hematological, or other congenital disorder. These babies usually look and act healthy at birth. Most affected babies have the opportunity to grow up healthy and develop normally through a simple blood screen that saves babies from death or disability.

Newborn Screening Newsletters

To view all past issues of the Newborn Screening Newsletter, visit the archives.

2015 Alabama Newborn Screening Conference

The 2015 Alabama Newborn Screening Conference was held September 18, 2015 at the Prattville Marriott Conference Center. Alabama celebrated its 50th year of newborn screening in 2015, and the focus of the conference was on the timeline of newborn screening in Alabama.

There were approximately 300 people in attendance which included pediatric providers, nurses, lab technicians, parent advocates, audiologists, and other health care professionals. Conference presentations and handouts are available online. The Alabama Newborn Screening Program thanks all speakers and participants for making the conference a huge success.

Family Perspective Videos

Below is a link to the testimonies of Alabama families with children identified through newborn screening. The families shared their stories at the 2011 NBS Conference held August 19 at the Prattville Marriott Conference Center.

Newborn Screening Family Videos


Page last updated: June 30, 2017