Drug Testing Babies at Birth

Submitted by Medical Health Test Team on October 16, 2012

A question that is often asked is “Is drug testing babies at birth required?” Well, there are some who are of the opinion that drug testing babies at birth is required; while some feel that it is not necessary. For those residing in the United States, the laws of each state makes it compulsory for certain tests to be conducted at birth. These tests are mainly to find out if your child has some genetic disorders. Tests are also prescribed to find out if the child has been exposed to some drugs in case the mother has used them.

Exposure to intrauterine drugs, for example, causes problems such as premature birth of the baby, cardiac problems, low birth weight, and other such problems. Using these drugs could also cause effects that are long lasting such as abnormalities in sleep patterns, feeding issues, and abnormal development as far as cognition and behavior are concerned. In some cases there are chances of sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS.

Many people are of the opinion that drug testing babies at birth is in the interest of the child. If the child tests positive for drugs then the mother is put under investigation. A social worker will probably visit the house on a regular basis to ensure that the mother is not using drugs anymore. If the child’s drug test is positive for marijuana they willnot take the child away from the mother, however, in the case of drugs such as meth,there arechances are that the child will be taken away. However, this might vary from state to state and it is important that you check what is applicable in your state.

It is the physician who is mainly responsible for the welfare of the child and orders that the newborn be tested for drugs if he feels that the mother has used some intrauterine drug. The doctor would however take into consideration a number of factors such as the mother’s medical history and the clinical symptoms shown by the newborn before ordering that a blood test be conducted on the child.

It is important that specific guidelines be written to make the selection process of children for these drug tests more transparent. This will ensure that physicians and hospitals that are involved in this testing are protected, and will also decrease the chance of any bias. If any child’s test reports are positive, a second test should be conducted to confirm the result of the first one.

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