Caring for Your Newborn
Newborn Screenings and Vaccinations
Massachusetts law requires that all newborns be screened to identify certain disorders that may not be apparent at birth.
A few drops of blood from a small prick in your baby’s heel will be sent to a state laboratory. Your baby will be discharged before the results are available. If the results are normal, you will not be notified. Any abnormal values will be reported to your baby’s doctor within five days. If you would like more information, ask your baby’s doctor or call the Newborn Screening Program at 617.983.6300.
Massachusetts requires that all newborns have a hearing test before they leave the hospital. The hearing test only takes 10 minutes and is best done when your baby is asleep. A newborn who does not pass the screening will be referred to our audiology department. Not passing does not mean your baby can’t hear, but it does mean your baby needs to be retested. An appointment with an audiology specialist will be scheduled before you leave the hospital. Follow up with your baby’s doctor and the audiologist is very important.
Vaccines protect newborns against disease and are very safe. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all newborns receive the first of three hepatitis B vaccinations within a few days of birth.
Hepatitis B is a liver disease that can lead to serious illness, cancer and possibly death. Once you have signed permission for the vaccination to be administered, a nurse will give your baby a shot in his/her thigh. If your baby is born prematurely, he/she may be eligible for an injection called Synagis, which is protective against a common but severe cold virus called respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Ask your baby’s doctor for more information about these vaccines. In addition, erythromycin, an eye ointment, will be given to your baby to prevent infection and Vitamin K will be given to help your baby’s blood to clot. If you have any questions about these exams or treatments, please talk to your nurse or baby’s doctor.