Florida Ranks Low for Required Newborn Screenings

Parents may not know it, but the Sunshine State offers just five of the recommended nine tests, and that could put their babies at risk.

Little Zyere was born on Independence Day with a full head of hair. He was given a battery of five tests to be sure he didn't have any disorders like sickle cell anemia or hypothyroidism.

But the March of Dimes says he, and every other baby, should be screened for nine disorders; their health depends on it.

“What it will allow us to do is identify babies who are at risk for these disorders and treat them early so we can prevent brain damage and we can prevent handicaps,” explains Dr. Todd Patterson, a Neonatologist at TMH.

The March of Dimes ranks Florida among the lowest tier of states, offering five tests. Georgia offers eight. And the top states offer nine or more.

"Unfortunately, Florida is not doing very well compared to many other states. Some states have 9 tests, others have gone way past the nine tests, but the good news is we are looking toward expansion over the next few years,” says Leah Barber-Heinz, March of Dimes.

The March of Dimes says money has been the biggest stumbling block. Medicaid funds recently okayed in Florida are laying the groundwork for expansion, but the bottom line for babies is those critical tests aren't required yet.

If you want more than the five tests offered in Florida, you can pay for them yourself, but keep in mind those costs are not typically covered by insurance.