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Newborn Screening program  

September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month
Baby sleeping on mom's chest

California Newborn Screening Program

In California, about 1 out of every 600 babies tested will have a rare, but treatable genetic disorder. To ensure the health of all its newborns, state law requires that all babies born in California have newborn screening soon after birth.


The California Newborn Screening (NBS) Program is a public health program that screens all babies for many serious but treatable genetic disorders. Newborn screening began in California in 1966 with screening for one disorder, called phenylketonuria (PKU). The NBS Program has expanded and now includes 80 different disorders, both genetic (passed down in families) and congenital (present at birth). 


The goal of the program is to identify babies with these disorders early, so that treatment can be started right away. A parent or guardian of the newborn child may only decline newborn screening based on the objection that it conflicts with his or her religious beliefs or practices.

How it works

The NBS Program takes a blood sample from a newborn’s heel from 12 to 48 hours after birth to check for genetic disorders. At the same time, the newborn receives a hearing and congenital heart disease screening. The California Newborn Hearing Screening Program helps identify hearing loss in infants and guide families to the appropriate services needed to develop communication skills. The California Congenital Health Disease Screening Program​, can be reached by email.

Parent who want their baby’s blood spot destroyed after newborn screening can contact the NBS Program and request this.

Cost and billing

Medi-Cal and most other insurance companies cover the NBS Program about 99% of the time. 

If your baby was born in a hospital and a blood sample was taken there, the cost is usually included in the hospital bill. If your baby was born at home, you will receive a notice from the NBS Program asking for insurance information. As a courtesy, CDPH will bill your insurance for you.

Newborn Screening Program Overview Videos

​English Video
​Spanish Video
​Blood Spot Video

Tit​le: California Department of Public Health’s Newborn Screening Program

La​​​​nguage: English

P​ublished: 7/2/2018

Du​ration: 3:23

Tit​le: Programa de Detección de Recién Nacidos de California

Language: Spanish

Published: 7/2/2018

Dur​​ation: 4:17

Tit​le: Important Facts about My Baby’s Newborn Screening Blood Spot Storage

Lan​guage: English

P​ublished: 1/18/2019

Duration: 3:00

Education Resources

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