Time crucial in screening newborns for disease; Tennessee's timing record unclear

photo Andrew Jace Gaconnet, 1 day old, waits to be taken back to his mother in the Well Baby Nursery at the Baroness Campus at Erlanger Health System. Newborns go through genetic screening tests administered shortly after birth to test for diseases that may not have been previously detected.

Every hour counts when it comes to testing newborns for serious illness.

A quick prick of the tiny heel, a few drops of blood on a sheet of filter paper, and a lab test can help reveal what doctors may not be able to detect: Genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia.

Without such tests -- and without quick turnaround times for results -- some such disorders may remain undetected until it's too late to prevent disability, brain damage, even death.