Many state governments in the United States mandate that all newborns be tested for metabolic disorders within 24 and 48 hours after birth. This required testing is used to determine if the infant has a metabolic disorder that could adversely affect a child's development. If discovered early, many of the effects of the metabolic disorder can be alleviated or averted.
Not every state tests or screens for the same disorders, so the phlebotomist must be certain to understand the requirements for the state in which they work. There is a movement to standardize testing throughout the United States.
Typically, the method used to screen for the presence of newborn metabolic disorders is the collection of capillary blood on a filter paper card. It is imperative that the phlebotomist follows the very specific directions for the collection of these samples. If a specimen is submitted to the state laboratory for testing and deemed unacceptable, the specimen would have to be re-collected. The infant would then have to be subjected to a second invasive puncture procedure, causing stress and trauma to the infant as well as the parents. More importantly, the need to obtain a second specimen can also cause a delay in treatment.