How are my newborn’s screening results used?

In most cases, parents don't hear anything at all about the results of their baby's newborn screening tests. This usually means that the tests did not detect any of the conditions screened for—or, as the child's health care provider might say, the results were "negative" or "in-range." Parents with concerns should talk with their health care provider and ask about the results.

Most states notify parents only when the results are "positive" or "out of range" for a particular condition(s).1

Out of Range Results

If the screening detects one or more conditions, the result is "positive" or, more accurately, "out of range." The child's health care provider or someone from the state health department will notify the parents, usually within 2 to 3 weeks, if the results are out of range.

This result does not mean the child definitely has the condition detected. Sometimes, the tests produce a "false positive," meaning that even though the test result was positive, the infant does not actually have the disease.

If the test result is positive, it is very important for the infant to undergo additional testing right away to confirm and diagnose any specific condition(s). Screening tests and diagnostic tests are not the same. If a baby is diagnosed with a condition, his or her health care provider and other providers will recommend a course of treatment.

Baby’s First Test  provides a list of the conditions screened for in the newborn screening panel for most states. This list includes symptoms of each condition and the test(s) used to diagnose a condition or confirm a positive screening result.

The Importance of Following Up

Newborn screening is used to detect serious medical conditions. If not treated, some of these conditions can cause lifelong health problems; others can cause death.

If your child’s health care provider or the state health department calls you about your infant’s newborn screening results, it is important to follow up quickly. Follow their instructions to get care for your baby.

Newborn screening makes early diagnosis possible so that treatment can begin immediately—before serious problems can occur or become permanent. This approach helps to ensure the best possible outcomes for babies.


  1. Baby’s First Test. (2012). Responding to results. Retrieved February 20, 2017, from 
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