What is Newborn Screening?

Screening is done by taking a small sample of blood from an infant's heel within the first 24-48 hours after birth. In March 2006, a screening test for cystic fibrosis (CF) was added to the 52 other conditions tested for in Minnesota MDH'S program. Your primary care provider, physician, or nurse practitioner, receives the results of your infants newborn screening tests and contacts you for further testing and follow-up.

Most babies with a positive screen do not have CF; however. some do. A sweat test is needed to determine whether or not your child has CF. A positive sweat test means your child has CF. A negative sweat test means your child does not have CF, but is probably a carrier. A sweat test is painless and results are available the same day. Some infants do not produce enough sweat and the test will need to be repeated.

Children's CF team created a newborn screening video for parents. To view, click here.

See our Laboratory Services page for additional information about what to expect from a sweat test, or to schedule a sweat test at Children's.

Screening Results

A positive newborn screening result can be very stressful and anxiety-provoking for parents and family members of a newborn. At Children's, we will strive to assure a quick and definite diagnosis. There are four possible outcomes of a sweat test:

1.) The sweat test is negative:

  • It is likely your baby is a carrier (but does not have CF).
  • Genetic counseling is recommended and provided at Children's.

2.) The sweat test is positive:

Early diagnosis has benefits:

  • Treatments begin early to control symptoms and ensure normal growth.
  • Early diagnosis improves cognitive function .
  • The CF team at Children's ensures your baby receives the best possible care for CF.

3.) The amount of sweat collected was not enough to complete the test:

  • Some infants do not produce enough sweat and the test will need to be repeated.

4.) The sweat test is borderline:

  • Sometime the sweat test indicates a higher value, but a level that is below the level required for a diagnosis of CF. In this case, the sweat test will be repeated and your child will be seen in the Children's Cystic Fibrosis Center where additional tests may be ordered.