The Spastics Society of Tamilnadu (SPASTN)

Screening of Newborns

New born screening is the process by which infants are screened shortly after birth for a list of disorders that are treatable, but difficult or impossible to detect clinically. New Born Screening programs are often run by state or national governing bodies with the goal of screening all infants born in the jurisdiction.

SPASTN’s goal is to identify infants who may develop Cerebral Palsy or other developmental disorders at a very early age. Early detection helps in preventing complications and minimizes the effects of disability. So the ultimate goal is Early Identification and Early Intervention

Importance of New Born Screening
Early intervention helps in:

  • Improving developmental skills and functional ability
  • Increasing the child’s independence
  • Minimizing the secondary complications arising out of disability


The following tests are performed in the New Born Screening process:

  • APGAR score
  • Screening for vision and hearing
  • Hip abduction test (for congenital hip dislocation)
  • Nose clearance test
  • Tests for congenital talipes equino varus (club foot)
  • Primitive reflexes
  • Tests for muscle tone
  • Primitive reflexes

Primitive reflexes are reflex actions originating in the central nervous system that are exhibited by typically developing infants in response to a particular stimulus. E.g. when you touch the baby’s palm, the baby closes its fingers. These reflexes disappear as the child grows. These primitive reflexes are also called infantile, infant or newborn reflexes.

Children with cerebral palsy may retain these reflexes even into their adulthood. An individual with cerebral palsy with good intelligence can learn to suppress these reflexes, but the reflex might resurface under certain conditions such as during an extreme stress or heavy work.

Reflexes may also be limited to those areas of the body that are affected due to cerebral palsy, such as individuals with cerebral palsy suffering from spastic diplegia. In this condition, the legs are more affected than the hands, resulting in only their legs retaining the Babinski reflex but having normal speech; in individuals with hemiplegia, (one sided paralysis) the reflex might be seen in the foot on the affected side only.

Primitive reflexes are primarily tested with suspected brain injury as in the case of cerebral palsy.
Bilateral absence of the reflex may mean damage to the infant's central nervous system while a unilateral absence could mean an injury due to birth trauma such as a fractured clavicle or injury to the brachial plexus. Erb's palsy or some other form of paralysis is also sometimes present in such cases.

The therapists in SPASTN are specially trained on conducting New Born Screening to identify cerebral palsy and other developmental disorders. We visit various Government hospitals in Chennai. The following is a list of hospitals visited by our therapists:

  • Public Health Centres at Saidapet, Medavakkam & Nandivaram
  • Institute of Child Health
  • Kilpauk Medical College
  • Ghosh Hospital, Triplicane
  • Stanley Hospital
  • RSRM Hospital