In this Section:
What conditions are screened for in Georgia?
Amino Acid Disorders
Fatty Acid Oxidation Disorders
Organic Acid Conditions
About Newborn Screening in Georgia
The Georgia Newborn Screening Program is committed to protecting and improving the health of all infants by assuring all newborns receive appropriate screening, follow-up, and medical services. The Newborn Screening Program screens for some genetic disorders, hemoglobin disorders, and endocrine conditions. The test begins with a blood specimen that is taken from every newborn before leaving the hospital. Each baby’s heel is pricked and a few drops of blood are collected on a filter paper card. Then the card is sent to a laboratory for testing.
Within a week or two, these results are shared with the hospital of birth and the doctor listed on the screening card. If your child’s newborn screen comes back abnormal, your doctor will contact you to discuss the next steps. Since the impact of these conditions can be decreased as soon as treatment begins, it is very important that your doctor has a current phone number and address so they can reach you. If they do reach out, follow their instructions immediately.
How is Newborn Screening Paid for in Georgia?
The Department of Public Health charges parents a $50.00 screening fee. Screening services will not be denied to any Georgia newborn based on an inability to pay.
Policies and Resources
All newborns must participate in the program unless the parents object on religious grounds.
Support for families:
One of the concerns some families may have when they find out their child has a condition detected through the newborn screening program is the increase in health care costs.
Fortunately, Georgia law allows the State Health department to use state and or federal funds, including the Maternal Child Health block grant, to provide services for children who suffer from the metabolic conditions detected through newborn screening. Children’s Medical Services, Babies Can’t Wait, and Children 1st are all programs designed to help support families who have a child with a genetic condition or birth defect.
The Children’s Medical Services (CMS) Program seeks to provide a comprehensive system of healthcare for children and youth with eligible chronic medical conditions from birth to twenty-one years of age. CMS is intended to ensure specialty healthcare services to children in Georgia who live in low income households. These services are administered by CMS in a family-focused, coordinated, and culturally-caring approach. CMS works to provide improved health outcomes for the children with special healthcare needs by coordinating their access to affordable, quality, specialty healthcare in our communities and by using the resources in a responsible manner.
CMS offers care coordination by nursing and professional staff for every child enrolled in the program. Medical and surgical treatment services may be available through private providers. These services may include hospitalization, physician service, surgical service, durable medical equipment, medicines, and supplies for the medical eligible condition(s). To see if your child qualifies, please contact your local program coordinator.
Babies Can't Wait (BCW) is Georgia's statewide interagency service delivery system for infants and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities and their families. BCW is established by Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which guarantees all eligible children, regardless of their disability, access to services that will enhance their development.
Babies Can’t Wait has a directory that provides information about the BCW Program located nearest to the child and family. To access the directory, call 1-800-229-2038 or (770) 451-5484 in Atlanta. The State BCW Office number is (404) 657-2726 or toll free: 1-888-651-8224. You may also visit the Children and Youth with Special Needs Coordinator Contact List for information on how to reach local Babies Can't Wait Programs.
Children 1st is the “Single Point of Entry” to a statewide collaborative system of public health and other prevention based programs and services. This system helps parents provide their young children with a healthy start in life. It allows at-risk children to be identified early and gives them a chance to grow up healthy and ready for school. Participation is voluntary and there are no financial requirements for enrollment into the program.
Storage and Use of Dried Blood Spots:
The Georgia Department of Community Health recognizes the sensitive nature of the newborn screening dried blood spot specimens. DCH shall protect the privacy of newborns and their families by assuring that all specimens are protected from inappropriate use or access.
All Dried Blood Spots are retained for twelve (12) weeks after testing is completed in order to allow for reanalysis if questions arise concerning the test results. Specimens that are presumptive positive for any of the diseases included in the newborn screening panel are stored for laboratory quality assurance purposes for up to two years.
The GPHL is a secure facility. Access to newborn screening specimens is restricted to GPHL staff involved with specimen receipt, testing, data entry, and laboratory management.
Use of Specimens
Retained Dried Blood Spots and associated demographic information can be used for the following purposes:
* Re-analysis to confirm the original test results.
* Internal method development and method validation studies, including the setting of appropriate cutoffs or normal ranges.
* Quality assurance audits and gap analysis.
* De-identified Dried Blood Spot aliquots may be sent to another laboratory when the reason for sending the aliquot is:
Confirmation of an unusual newborn screening result;
Participation in a specimen-exchange program designed to improve the quality of testing in newborn screening laboratories; or
Providing assistance to another laboratory in developing or validating a newborn screening method (requires a statement from the laboratory requesting the specimens that specifies how the specimens will be used, and written approval from the GPHL Director).
Dried blood spots will be autoclaved and then handled as medical waste, which involves off-site incineration.
Release of Specimens
In addition to the applications described above under the Use of Specimens Dried Blood Spots, Dried Blood Spots may be transferred to other entities as delineated below:
- An entity that has a contract with DCH to perform additional (i.e., second tier) testing in response to an out-of-range screening result.
- A health care provider at the request of the patient, legal guardian, or legal representative after completing and signing a written request form approved by DCH.
- A researcher with written, informed consent from the patient, legal guardian, or legal representative as long as the research project has been reviewed and approved by DCH.
- A named person in a legally executed subpoena following review and approval by the attorney general or his/her designee.
- A person to whom release is mandated by order of a court of competent jurisdiction.
Any parent who desires to have his/her child’s newborn screening specimen (presumptive positive or confirmed case) destroyed twelve weeks after completion of testing may request such action in writing. Any parent who desires assurance that his/her child’s specimen has been destroyed after completion of testing may request confirmation of such action in writing.
Information on the retention and potential use of residual newborn screening specimens is available through the Department’s newborn screening brochure and on its website.