Is Drug Testing Newborn Babies Required in Hospitals?

There are a variety of tests that each state requires by law to be conducted shortly after birth. Most of the testing is for genetic disorders, but can include screening for intrauterine drug exposure if maternal drug use is suspected.


Intrauterine drug exposure is associated with an increased risk of prematurity, small gestational age, cardiac abnormalities, low birth weight, central nervous system stroke and hemorrhage, according to the journal "Clinical Chemistry."

Long Term Effects

PCP Effects on the Fetus

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Long lasting effects of intrauterine drug use on a fetus may result in abnormal sleep patterns, feeding problems, abnormal cognitive and behavioral development, increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and difficulty with social interactions.

Drug Testing Newborns

No legislation has been enacted regarding mandatory drug testing of newborns in any of the 50 states or the District of Columbia, according to a national survey of state maternal and newborn drug-testing and reporting policies.

Optional Drug Testing

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A physician who is primarily responsible for the infant, such as a pediatrician, may order a newborn drug test if they believe intrauterine drug use has occurred. A combination of maternal history, newborn clinical symptoms and toxicology testing of the mother should be considered before performing a newborn drug test.

Meconium Testing

Meconium is the dark substance that is passed through a newborn's rectum the first few days after birth until milk-based stools develop. According to, it is the preferred method of drug testing because it can detect any drug use that has occurred within the last 4 to 5 months of pregnancy.