Program Updates and News

Resuming Second Newborn Screening Collections

Due to COVID-19, on April 1, 2020, the Washington State Newborn Screening Program temporarily suspended our recommendation to collect routine second screens for infants with previous normal results. This temporary guidance was reversed, effective October 15, 2020, and we resume recommending routine collection of second newborn screens for all infants when they are 7 - 14 days old.

Collection of the first newborn screen continues to be a mandated and essential service. However, first screens will miss a small number of infants with the conditions, including severe, later-onset, or milder forms. This is why a routine second screen is recommended between 7 to 14 days of age to catch anything not found on the first screen and to assess trends in results over time. If it is uncertain whether an infant has received newborn screening, a screen may be collected up to six months of age.

Newborn Screening Awareness Month Webinars

The Washington State Department of Health wants to thank everyone who joined us in September for our webinar mini-series about newborn screening!

We had the privilege of having about 100 viewers total who represented the diversity of health care providers across Washington state (and beyond) who work in the public health system of newborn screening. If you missed any of the webinars or would like to revisit the information provided, use these links to register to watch a recording:

Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) screening

Newborn Screening (blood spot)

Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)

While Newborn Screening Awareness Month has come to end this year, raising awareness never ends! We encourage you to check our recordings of the webinars as well as other resources on our website to continue to educate yourself about these essential screening tests for every baby.

Performance Kudos for the 3rd Quarter of 2020

Congratulations to the hospitals with exemplary performance in meeting the timeframes for specimen collection and specimen transit of the newborn screening law (Chapter 70.83.080 RC). Read performance details in the 3rd Quarter 2020 Bulletin (PDF).

Washington State to Begin Screening for Spinal Muscular Atrophy

We're excited to be adding spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) to the mandatory newborn screening panel on August 7, 2020. All specimens received following the official launch of screening for this disorder will be tested for the presence of exon 7 of the survival motor neuron 1 gene (SMN1). Babies who are missing this segment of DNA likely have a form of SMA and will need an urgent clinical evaluation by pediatric neurologists at Seattle Children's Hospital or Mary Bridge Children's Hospital.

Early identification through screening connects babies to essential evaluation and monitoring by specialists. Several treatment options are available that can alter disease progression and improve health outcomes and quality of life. We estimate that five or six babies with SMA will be born each year in Washington State. The newborn screening fee will increase by $4.30 per infant to cover the cost of this new testing.

Contact us if you have questions about SMA newborn screening at 206-418-5410 or by email at If you'd like more information about SMA newborn screening, see Baby's First Test.

Annual Report

State law (Chapter 70.83.080 RCW) requires the Department of Health to compile an annual report detailing the compliance rate of hospitals in meeting specific newborn screening requirements. These requirements help ensure that infants with a condition receive timely testing, diagnosis, and treatment. The Annual Newborn Screening Report has three sections:

  1. Compliance – how well individual hospitals complied with the law requiring that all infants have a screening specimen collected and sent to the state laboratory quickly after birth. Data for home births and standalone birth centers is reported in aggregate.
  2. Quality –how well individual hospitals did in collecting good quality, usable specimens and in accurately completing important demographic information on the specimen. Data for home births, standalone birth centers, clinics, and laboratories is reported in aggregate.
  3. Notification – how quickly the baby's doctor notified the parents after screening results show the baby may have a disorder and further testing is needed.

These reports can be found on our Statistics and Reports page. The 2017 report compiles data for the 12-month period January through December 2017.