The Texas Newborn Screening Program requires that two specimens be collected from each newborn. A small amount of blood is taken from the newborn’s heel at 24 to 48 hours after birth, and a second specimen is collected at one to two weeks after birth. The state’s public health laboratory analyzes the screens.
Starting in December 2009, the program added cystic fibrosis (CF) to the list of genetic disorders screened in infants. With the of addition of CF, the Texas program screens for 28 genetic disorders and congenital hearing loss — the entire list of core conditions the American College of Medical Genetics recommends for screening. The cost of the newborn screening kit is now $34.50.
For questions or concerns on reimbursement, refer to the state lab’s FAQs on specimen collection and billing. TMA members can also submit complaints to the Hassle Factor Log or contact the TMA Knowledge Center: (800) 880-7955.
Storing Newborn Screening Data
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) started saving newborn screening samples in 2002. The deidentified samples are stored for quality assurance purposes and for their potential value in approved research to find new or more effective ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat diseases.
Concerns about keeping the samples without the parents’ knowledge led to legislative changes for the program. House Bill 1672, passed during the 2009 Texas legislative session, requires physicians to disclose to parents information about the storage and use of the screening samples. Parents have the option of directing DSHS to destroy their newborn’s sample.
Information about the use and storage of the samples, and a downloadable destruction directive form (PDF) are available on the DSHS Web site. The form also can be requested by calling DSHS toll-free at (888) 963-7111, ext. 7333, or by mailing a request to DSHS, Newborn Screening Laboratory, MC 1947, PO Box 149347, Austin, TX 78714-9347.