Implications of newborn screening for nurses

J Nurs Scholarsh. 2013 Mar;45(1):25-33. doi: 10.1111/jnu.12005. Epub 2013 Jan 31.


Purpose: Newborn screening has dramatically decreased the morbidity and mortality associated with a wide range of heritable conditions. Continuing advances in screening technology and improvements in the effectiveness of treatment are driving the rapid expansion of newborn screening programs. In this article, we review issues in newborn screening care and opportunities for nurses and nursing faculty to provide education and conduct research to improve the impact of newborn screening.

Organizing construct: This article provides (a) an overview of current newborn screening activities, including how conditions are added to newborn screening panels and how implementation occurs at state and national levels; (b) a description of current controversies and ethical considerations; (c) a description of the roles of nurses in the newborn screening process; (d) suggestions for nursing education and research; and (e) a summary of expected future developments in newborn screening, including genome sequencing.

Conclusions: Nurses are uniquely well suited to address the educational needs and future research in newborn screening because of the role that nurses play in the provision of direct clinical care and in population-based healthcare delivery.

Clinical relevance: Newborn screening is a public health approach to the identification of rare but treatable conditions in early infancy. In the United States, as in other industrialized countries, newborn screening is rapidly expanding. Nurses, nurse educators, and nurse researchers are positioned to contribute to the field of newborn screening by assuring programs are implemented safely and effectively, by facilitating education of the nursing work force, and by developing and contributing to research programs in newborn screening.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Education, Nursing*
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neonatal Nursing / education*
  • Neonatal Screening / nursing*