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Getting Just the Right Spot

  • baby footFor new parents, nothing is more important than the health of their baby. Newborn screening is a public health program that was created to help ensure that every baby has the best chance of living a long and healthy life. To make sure that each newborn screening blood test is as accurate as possible, the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) has developed special guidelines, so that no matter where your baby is born, the same high quality bloodspot is obtained for analysis.

    Following these guidelines are important because a low quality bloodspot can lead to false positive screening results, false negative screening results, and the need to repeat the test on the infant.   

    Some highlights from the guidelines include:

    • Warm the baby’s heel ahead of time to increase blood flow
    • Wipe the heel with an alcohol swab
    • Position the baby’s foot lower than his or her heart to increase venous pressure
    • Prick the baby on the side of their heel
    • Wipe off the first drop of blood and collect the sample using the filter paper
    • After the sample has been collected, elevate the baby’s foot and use gauze to apply pressure until the bleeding stops

    The CLSI has also developed special guidelines for those babies who are born sick, preterm or low birth weight to make sure that all babies receive an accurate screen. Please see the complete guidelines on specimen collection for newborn screening on the CLSI website.

    Nurses, what methods have you found to make both mom and baby most comfortable during the bloodspot collection? Share your experiences and ideas here!

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