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Two blood samples taken from the baby's heel, one at birth and one a week, are those that are needed to give your newborn the heel test, a screening test that detects the possible presence of congenital diseases in the newborn. Detected early, these diseases are treated and thus evita that cause brain damage or mental handicap.
This small and fleshy area of the foot is used to extract a few drops of blood from the newborn, which will then be analyzed in the laboratory to determine if the child was born with a congenital metabolic disease. The first extraction takes place within the first 48 hours of life and the second, around the seventh day of life.
To obtain the blood sample, the baby is pricked in the lateral area of the heel and the sample is collected on blotting paper. The circle of the blotting paper should be completely impregnated with blood until it passes to the other side. The sample is dried with ambient heat.
The laboratory techniques used are not exactly the same in all countries, not even in all autonomous communities within the same nation. In most maternity hospitals A sample is collected at the maternity ward, before discharge, for the study of hypothyroidism and, a few days later, a second sample is collected at the health center for other diseases. In other places, a single blood draw or sample is done on the third day of life.
After a thorough laboratory analysis, the result is sent to the parents to confirm that the baby is well and that they do not have any disease with a negative result, or to warn them that they should go to the specialist and begin to take a series of measures aimed at acting quickly in the solution of certain health problems for which, time, is a fundamental factor.
Some of the metabolic diseases, such as hypothyroidism or phenylketouria, do not cause symptoms at birth and when they appear so that doctors can identify them it is too late because they have caused irreparable damage to the baby.
Congenital diseases can exist from the formation of the embryo and constitute an important group of deficiencies. Its origin is found in genetic errors or in exogenous, toxic factors, drugs or radiation, which act through the mother's body.
Heel test in baby or natal screening It has been around for more than 30 years and started in New Zealand. Since then, the results have improved considerably. Thus, while in 2009 only seven diseases were detected, today, with the application of new technologies it is possible to diagnose more than thirty hereditary diseases from a newborn blood sample.
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