September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month

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Colorado’s life-saving screenings detect 39 disorders

DENVER (Sept. 18, 2023) — The Colorado Newborn Blood Spot Screening Program at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s State Public Health Laboratory is observing Newborn Screening Awareness Month this month by raising awareness about the importance of newborn screening. 

The newborn screening program began nearly 60 years ago when it first started screening for phenylketonuria (PKU), an inherited metabolic disorder that increases the levels of a substance called phenylalanine in the blood. There are approximately 63,000 births in Colorado every year, and newborn screening is a set of tests that checks for a variety of conditions. Through newborn screening, the state lab is able to identify more than 700 children every year who are at risk of a metabolic or genetic disorder. These children are quickly connected to specialized follow-up clinical care, resulting in improved quality of life.

“Newborn screening is critical and one of the most essential programs in the state. There are no clear signs or symptoms present, and each disorder tested has a treatment to improve the child’s health or even save their life,” said Greg Bonn, the newborn screening  program manager. “The mission of our program is important to all of us because the work that we do each day helps save the lives of babies throughout Colorado.”

Some of the screened conditions include: 

  • Cystic fibrosis.
  • Sickle cell disease.
  • Congenital hypothyroidism.
  • Critical congenital heart disease.

The Colorado Newborn Screening Program is a three-part system consisting of the blood spot screen, which can detect 39 disorders, the hearing screen, and the pulse oximetry screen. The blood spot screen is collected at the hospital and then sent to the state lab. The second screen is collected at the primary care provider office between 8-14 days of age.

The program runs six days a week, including holidays, in order to ensure timely testing, reporting, follow-up, and education of these disorders. For more information, visit Newborn Screening’s webpage or email