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Vital screenings for your newborn

For nine months of pregnancy, expecting parents do a lot of preparing: for childbirth, for the nursery, for feeding and so much more. But in those moments right after childbirth, what should new parents expect?

After birth, newborns are screened for several health conditions.

Testing, testing

"Jackson Hospital participates in the Alabama Newborn Screening Program, which tests for 31 core conditions, including PKU, congenital hypothyroidism, hemoglobinopathies, galactosemia, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, biotinidase deficiency, a number of amino acid, organic acid and fatty acid deficiencies and cystic fibrosis," said Ava Garmon, RN, who works in Jackson Hospital's nursery. "This is a blood test done the day of discharge. We send the blood sample to the newborn screening department of the Alabama Department of Public Health."

Should any abnormalities be found, parents can expect to be informed of those within two weeks of the test being performed.

Another important test parents should expect for an infant: a hearing test.

"If the infant does not pass one or both ears, we refer them to an audiologist for further testing," Garmon explained. "We also check pulse oximeter (the oxygen saturation of a patient's blood) readings at delivery and again at day two of life to screen for any congenital heart disease. We have a back to sleep program that informs parents of safe sleep positions for their infant to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome."

While those are the screenings that a full-term infant would receive, preterm infants are tested further.

Are you sitting down?

"We do a car seat challenge test a few days before discharge," Garmon said. "We watch for any signs of apnea, bradycardia or oxygen desaturations while the infant is sitting upright in the car seat. We also teach parents CPR/choking for any infant who is less than 35 weeks gestation. We also have an occupational therapist who performs developmental screenings on our preterm infants and will recheck their progress at three months or six months of age. Any infant who is 32 weeks or less, or any infant between 32 and 34 weeks who was on oxygen longer than 72 hours, will also have their eyes checked by an ophthalmologist trained in retinopathy of prematurity."

For more information on Jackson Hospital's Family Birth Center, visit www.jackson.org/baby.

We're due too!

Jackson Hospital's $3 million renovation of its women's center continues, with an expected completion date of December 2015. The center, which will officially be called the Family Birth Center at Jackson, boasts all new equipment; large, updated rooms; and a warm, welcoming environment for mom and baby. A tile mosaic greets guests at the entrance to the unit, and nature photography depicting new life can be found in patient rooms throughout the Family Birth Center at Jackson.

The first phase of the project, which includes eight new patient rooms and a triage room, are completed. Phase 2 has begun, and it includes the remaining six patient rooms, the nurses' station and the elevator lobby.

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