A blood sample is needed. The area (usually the heel) is cleansed with germ-killing solution, and the skin is punctured with a sharp needle or a lancet. The blood collects into a small glass tube called a pipette, or onto a slide or test strip. A bandage may be placed over the area if there is any bleeding.
The blood sample is sent to a lab. Chromatography is used to determine the amino acids levels in the blood.
How to prepare for the test
The baby should not be fed for 4 hours before the test.
High or low concentrations of individual plasma amino acids must be interpreted along with other clinical information. Abnormal results may be due to diet, hereditary problems with the ability of the body to handle the amino acid, or to drug effects.
What the risks are
Risks associated with having blood drawn are slight:
Fainting or feeling light-headed
Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)
Frank A. Greco, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Biophysical Laboratory, The Lahey Clinic, Burlington, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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