question for those who used religious exemptions to avoid newborn screening - Mothering Forums
Birth and Beyond > question for those who used religious exemptions to avoid newborn screening
BRmama's Avatar BRmama 02:18 PM 09-29-2010
Hi, I'm 32 weeks pregnant and I'll be avoiding the vit. k, eye ointment, and hep b shot. Here's a little background:

My state only does religious exemption for newborn screening. After I spoke with the nurse from my state health dept. she said that they don't do exemptions for newborn screening and I need to go to the hospital where I'm delivering to get one. Then I explained to her further what I am trying to avoid and that the law in our state only does religious exemption for newborn screening. Then she said that I need to go to my local health dept. and get a religious exemption there.

So my question is this: Is the religious exemption for newborn screening any different than a religious one for immunizations? I know that for the hepatitis B shot I can just refuse it.

TIA

ETA: I'm in Utah

Climbergirl's Avatar Climbergirl 04:26 PM 09-29-2010
I am not sure I quite understand. You are wanting to get an exception from the newborn screening tests like for PKU and other metabolic disorders?
BRmama's Avatar BRmama 05:02 PM 09-29-2010
Sorry, I guess I should make myself clear. I want to get an exemption from vitamin k shot, eye ointment and the hep B shot. Those are part of the newborn screening tests that are required by my state. The only way to avoid that is to do an specific birth plan and to have a religious exemption which is the only one my state allows, does that make sense? The exemption would be for those procedures when my baby is born and the nurse said that since it doesn't have anything to do with immunizations that the hospital would have the religious exemption, not them. So now I'm wondering if the religious exemption that I want for the newborn screening is different than the one for an immunization. I just want to have the right papers with me ahead of time. TIA
Llyra's Avatar Llyra 05:23 PM 09-29-2010
You may also want to try posting this in the Tribal Area forum for Utah, to target it specifically to people who live in your state who may have experience with this. I don't have any information, but I sure hope you find out what you need to know.
BRmama's Avatar BRmama 05:25 PM 09-29-2010
That's true, thanks
St. Margaret 05:28 PM 09-29-2010
I think the confusion is that those things are not screenings, they are preventive treatments and the like. The heb B IS an immunization of course, so that's a bit odd. The PKU heel stick is a newborn screening. They might just be talking about all the procedures tossed together, who knows. Anyway. You have an absolute right to refuse the administration of things to your baby; I would definitely ask on the Utah FYT board for folks familiar with the law as it stands. I have heard that in NYS it's more of a legal issue, and in some states it is an all or nothing thing (you have to refuse all or get all) but someone from Utah will know best...

We did the K and nothing else with DD, in a hospital in CA 3 years ago
babyjelly's Avatar babyjelly 06:22 PM 09-29-2010
I think the healt dept nurse you spoke to was smoking crack
I refused all three with my son two years ago without a problem. It's a simple waiver they bring you...although yes, in hospital, it is something you will need to discuss with everyone beforehand, and mention (probably more than once) to nurses during your stay.
Vaccination exemption is assumed to be philosophical, and an exemption form is not required until you enroll your child in school. IIRC, if you do well baby checks you will be asked to sign at each visit stating that you have refused vaccination, to CYdoctorsA.
Good luck to you!
A Utah mom
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BRmama's Avatar BRmama 11:24 PM 09-29-2010
St. Margaret that's true, those are preventive measures its just that they're included in the screening. Yeah I xposted on my tribe. I think here in my state it's all or nothing. I just find it so amazing how difficult they make your life when you are trying to get just one piece of paper . Anyway thanks for your help
BRmama's Avatar BRmama 11:35 PM 09-29-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by babyjelly View Post
I think the healt dept nurse you spoke to was smoking crack
I refused all three with my son two years ago without a problem. It's a simple waiver they bring you...although yes, in hospital, it is something you will need to discuss with everyone beforehand, and mention (probably more than once) to nurses during your stay.
Vaccination exemption is assumed to be philosophical, and an exemption form is not required until you enroll your child in school. IIRC, if you do well baby checks you will be asked to sign at each visit stating that you have refused vaccination, to CYdoctorsA.
Good luck to you!
A Utah mom
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I agree lol. She asked me what religion I was and I didn't tell her I just said I'm trying to follow the law and here you need a religious exemption for that. Then she tried to scare me with scare tactics and gave me a huge speech all after I was transferred four times and given the wrong number. Anyway I'm glad it worked out for you. I'll be calling my hospital to get the waiver and we're doing a birth plan jic so we can distribute it to the staff that comes in and out of the room and we'll make sure to tell them too. Just out of curiosity though when you refused them for your son and you told your dr. did he/she give you a hard time about it?

Thank you all again for the responses
Smokering's Avatar Smokering 02:25 AM 09-30-2010
Do people actually have religious objections to these tests? I'm curious as to the reasoning. I know some vaccines are cultured from aborted fetal tissue (or were originally, or something), but I'm having a hard time seeing why any religion would be against vitamin K or eye ointment. Is it animal-derived vitamin K, making it a problem for vegans (not that veganism is a religion, obviously, but it'd count as a philosophical objection)? Or...?

You should be able to decline anything they plan on charging you for, right?
BRmama's Avatar BRmama 02:00 PM 09-30-2010
Quote:
Do people actually have religious objections to these tests? I'm curious as to the reasoning. I know some vaccines are cultured from aborted fetal tissue (or were originally, or something), but I'm having a hard time seeing why any religion would be against vitamin K or eye ointment. Is it animal-derived vitamin K, making it a problem for vegans (not that veganism is a religion, obviously, but it'd count as a philosophical objection)? Or...?

You should be able to decline anything they plan on charging you for, right?
I don't know if people actually do have religious objections to these tests. My problem is that for the procedures I want to avoid for my son they're part of the newborn screening and for me to avoid them my state only allows a religious exemption. I'm christian and I think my religion really don't care but I'll still do everything I can to get that exemption. I do have other reasons to not want those procedures done on my son so I'm pretty sure I'll be able to decline them, I just want to have a document supporting my rights to decline them when I'm at the hospital.
Asiago's Avatar Asiago 02:18 PM 09-30-2010
Perhaps speak with staff from the Labor and Delivery department at the hospital you'll deliver at to get thier answer.

Also found this:
http://www.vaclib.org/exempt/utah.htm

I'm not in Utah but when my son was born the only waivor I recall signing was for Vit. K. I noted in my birth plan not to administer eye medication nor Hep B vaccination also. He did have the PKU blood test and hearing test.
texmati's Avatar texmati 02:27 PM 09-30-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRmama View Post
I don't know if people actually do have religious objections to these tests. My problem is that for the procedures I want to avoid for my son they're part of the newborn screening and for me to avoid them my state only allows a religious exemption. I'm christian and I think my religion really don't care but I'll still do everything I can to get that exemption. I do have other reasons to not want those procedures done on my son so I'm pretty sure I'll be able to decline them, I just want to have a document supporting my rights to decline them when I'm at the hospital.

I would defnitely get it straight when you are talking to them whether you are talking about the newborn screening, or the vitk, eye goop and vax.

The vit k, eye goop and hep b shot all have risks associated with them, but can be mandated by the state. You could could argue for any of these that you don't agree that the procedure's benefits outweigh the risks. You should be able to sign a waiver, and that's that.

For the newborn screening (heel stick with the card that they put dots of blood on) there is very little or no risk to baby. you aren't putting anything inside the child, it's just a prick on the heel. This you may have a hard time explaining or getting any exemption for. I'm guessing there are some religions that oppose the drawing of blood. (jehovah's witnesses, I think?).

If you mix up the terms, it could be possible that you are getting incorrect info from nurse/hospital.

I would learn more about the risks and benefits to all these procedures. From reading before my son was born many on this board do not object to the newborn screen (heel stick). We did the newborn screen and the vit k. We delayed the hep b (this is quite common) and eye ointment wasn't an issue since he wasn't born vaginally.
*MamaJen*'s Avatar *MamaJen* 02:32 PM 09-30-2010
A lot of people skip the Hep B, Vit K and eye ointment. (I did the eye ointment but not the other two). But even if you skip those interventions, it's really worth it to do the metabolic disorders screen (Usually called the PKU test, though it tests for a lot more than PKU).
It's not an intervention, persay -- there's nothing that goes into the baby. It's just a blood draw. The screen tests for a whole bunch of metabolic disorders that can leave your child profoundly physically and mentally disabled if not caught in time, but with strict dietary regimens the child can be basically unaffected.
I skipped almost all of the interventions, but I would never skip the metabolic screening. There's no risk, and the potential payoff is huge.
BRmama's Avatar BRmama 05:25 PM 09-30-2010
Thanks everyone. I'm going to call the hospital later and see what they say. I know here in my state I can refuse the hep b shot but I might need to sign a waiver for the other two. Okay so now I have a couple questions so please bear with me

Quote:
I would defnitely get it straight when you are talking to them whether you are talking about the newborn screening, or the vitk, eye goop and vax.
Yes definitely, thanks for pointing that out. According to the site mentioned by a pp that I've been checking out those three procedures are part of the newborn screening here in my state. I'll be calling the hospital later and clarify with them.

Quote:
We delayed the hep b (this is quite common) and eye ointment wasn't an issue since he wasn't born vaginally.
Sorry for asking, so for cesareans they don't do the ointment? I asked the health dept nurse here in my state and she said that here they still do it even with cesareans because the baby is still getting bodily fluids from the mother with the c-section. Maybe she's wrong I don't know, but one more thing to ask the hospital about just to be sure.

Quote:
I skipped almost all of the interventions, but I would never skip the metabolic screening. There's no risk, and the potential payoff is huge.
Okay so for the pku (sorry I'm still researching this one so I don't know a lot about it yet) they're also checking for metabolic disorders? When I did a search on this forum I found a thread about this topic. Basically the mamas were talking about different kinds of the needle that pokes the baby and which one was better, also to keep the foot warm so that the blood can flow easier and faster (I'll try to find the thread again). Anyway so my question with the pku test is this. Do they do this test twice? Once when you have the baby and the next time at the ped's office? I remember that with my son his ped did something similar and poked his heel and used the card to draw up the blood. Maybe I'm confusing tests. I guess I'll be researching this one more

Thank you all again for the responses
Smokering's Avatar Smokering 08:49 PM 09-30-2010
Quote:
I don't know if people actually do have religious objections to these tests. My problem is that for the procedures I want to avoid for my son they're part of the newborn screening and for me to avoid them my state only allows a religious exemption. I'm christian and I think my religion really don't care but I'll still do everything I can to get that exemption. I do have other reasons to not want those procedures done on my son so I'm pretty sure I'll be able to decline them, I just want to have a document supporting my rights to decline them when I'm at the hospital.
Oh, absolutely. I declined them myself (it's no big deal here). I was just curious if there were any sort of codified religious reasons to avoid them, and what they'd be.

And yeah, I'd definitely do the heel prick test.
babyjelly's Avatar babyjelly 12:06 AM 10-01-2010
What hospital will you be birthing at?
My son was born at home, and my MW expected me to refuse everything
For my daughters, though, I birthed in hospital and elected to have the K and ointment, but refuse the Hep B. It was not an issue at all in the hospital (my ped was another issue altogether).
The metabolic screen aka PKU aka heel stick is usually done twice, once at birth and once at two weeks. I would never skip it entirely, but I only do it once, at about ten days. This has never been a problem either, and I did not have to get an exemption.
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BRmama's Avatar BRmama 03:21 AM 10-01-2010
Quote:
Oh, absolutely. I declined them myself (it's no big deal here). I was just curious if there were any sort of codified religious reasons to avoid them, and what they'd be.

And yeah, I'd definitely do the heel prick test.
You know I wonder that too. A lot of the states seem to do only the religious exemption if you don't want to have the newborn screen tests so it makes me wonder why the religious exemption and not like philosophical.

Yeah I do want to do the heel prick test but I'm still searching that one and have questions about it.

Quote:
What hospital will you be birthing at?
My son was born at home, and my MW expected me to refuse everything
For my daughters, though, I birthed in hospital and elected to have the K and ointment, but refuse the Hep B. It was not an issue at all in the hospital (my ped was another issue altogether).
The metabolic screen aka PKU aka heel stick is usually done twice, once at birth and once at two weeks. I would never skip it entirely, but I only do it once, at about ten days. This has never been a problem either, and I did not have to get an exemption.
At IMC, I wish I could have a homebirth. Anyway I'm sorry you had issues with your pediatrician. I have a really nice pediatrician that I take my son to and he's non vax friendly but the staff at this hospital is another story. They can get pretty pushy as they did with me when I had my son and did not want the hep b shot. They pressured me so much and I was too weak to fight so I caved. This time I know better though.

So with the pku why is it done twice? And is it something that can be done at just the pediatric's office? I mean I would like to be there and nurse my son when that happens. Also since I xposted on my tribe I was told to keep the heel warm. So do I bring like a warm pad with me or does the staff have that on hand? Sorry I guess I should start another thread about it. Anyway TIA
*MamaJen*'s Avatar *MamaJen* 04:57 PM 10-01-2010
PKU is just one of the disorders they test for -- depending on the state, they test for a pretty large number of metabolic disorders (basically, genetic disorders relating to the way your body metabolizes food.) The reason why it's so essential to catch them is because if the symptoms show up, the damage is already done. But with specialized diets, the child can be pretty much unaffected.
A lot of hospitals do two screens, while most midwives only do one. I forget what they say the optimal day is for doing the screen. It's after your milk comes in, maybe on day 7? Someone here should know.
Also, nursing and warming the heel definitely make it easier on the baby. My midwife used a washcloth that she ran under hot water, and I nursed while she did it. My baby cried, but for less than a minute. I've heard the test can be pretty traumatic when it's done roughly.
I'm pretty sure you can get it done at your pediatrician's office.
Asiago's Avatar Asiago 03:41 PM 10-02-2010
More info re. the metabolic test state by state:

http://genes-r-us.uthscsa.edu/nbsdisorders.pdf
lach's Avatar lach 03:53 PM 10-02-2010
Check with your hospital, but also try to find some people who gave birth at your hospital and ask them the real deal. For the Hep B, the K, and the eye stuff I had to sign off on all three individually on my pre-registration form. I wrote "no" next to the ones I didn't want, and that was pretty much that.

But I'm not sure I'd totally take the hospital's word... it seems like the kind of thing where they want you to get these things so they might tell you ahead of time that you must. So I'd ask around and see what other people experienced.

I also wouldn't skip the screen. Maybe it depends on the state, but here they screen for something like 40 different things, and then you can opt for a second screen of another 40 or so different things. They're mostly pretty rare things, but I didn't see any downside whatsoever in doing them. The hearing test is an important thing, too. My son scored fine on the newborn hearing test, but suffered so many ear infections that he had lost some hearing by the time he was 18mo. We don't know when exactly this happened, but we were lucky to have caught it by 18mo: it's much more normal for hearing loss not to be caught until 2-3. The earlier you can start dealing with such issues, the better for everyone involved.
EdnaMarie's Avatar EdnaMarie 04:05 PM 10-02-2010
Quote:
I want to get an exemption from vitamin k shot, eye ointment and the hep B shot. Those are part of the newborn screening tests that are required by my state.
No, those are not part of a screening. They are separate.

I would never skip the PKU, personally. They are all things that are degenerative (meaning the earlier you catch them, the more you can do), severe (can lead to permanent disability and/or death), and treatable. There is a reason they do it at that age, and not other tests.

I got tested for gonorrhea and all STDs in my last month of pregnancy to be sure I could skip the eye ointment.
nia82 08:37 PM 10-02-2010
Definitely check with the hospital and talk to people. WY technically says only religious exemption for eye ointment or vitamin K shots, yet I know plenty people who just said no at the local hospital with no further issues... I had DS in CA and there it was not a biggy... Ask the hospital how they work, e.g. as the hospital in CA didn't do the HepB shot, it was the ped on call who would want to do it. The nurses didn't do it for sure. We had to throw one ped out basically, man they pester you like CRAZY about that stuff.
This time, we will have the baby at a freestanding birthing center in Colorado. We just signed a paper at the first prenatal that we don't want any of this (eye ointment, vitamin K - that's all they do). We of course don't do the HepB shot, not even at the newborn health check with our family practitioner. We will officially opt out of the CO newborn screening as we do it privately - we will pay $200 for it with a private lab which screens for 55 diseases and they will destroy the blood sample after the test is done, while all states keep a sample on hand until the child turns 18 and they can do with it what they want. We are not comfy with anyone having a DNA sample of our child, no way! So we will sign the forms for declining that test, and the FP takes the blood sample for the private lab on day 14, as many diseases cannot be found early on when they test in the hospitals, which is why they want to do it twice in a couple of states (CA didn't). As for the K, we do oral vitamin K, dutch protocol. We know we don't need the eye ointment, no STDs here, and actually if one of us cheated, which is the card they always play, we are honest enough to admit such a thing to each other if it happened because it would affect our baby's life. I truly do not see the point if mom lives in a monogamous, loving, honest relationship.

As for truly religious objections, I know a lot of Christians who do not believe in treatment of a healthy body - like injecting vitamin K which carries risks, yet the baby is healthy and only might develop a bleeding. They are cool at the same time with oral vitamin K as it carries no risk. The eye ointment is yet another treatment without disease, hence the objection.
babyjelly's Avatar babyjelly 11:15 PM 10-02-2010
I believe the heel stick is done twice because they don't trust us to be responsible parents (same as everything else that's standard, right?). The first test is highly unreliable, but at least it's getting done, or so the thinking goes. It isn't a pleasant test for the baby, so I do it when it's more reliable, and only once.
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St. Margaret 01:26 PM 10-03-2010
Yeah, the PKU was done last time before DD was 24 hours old, no way my milk was in yet (and baby should be nursing milk for it to be valid, so they normally say like 3 days). And then they DIDN'T do it at the peds. They said we'd have to get an order written up and go to the hospital to get it done later. SIGH.

This time my midwife will do it at the proper time, at home. It's not even that expensive (we pay the midwife out of pocket).
BRmama's Avatar BRmama 01:57 PM 10-03-2010
Thank you everyone for the responses and the sites with information.

Quote:
No, those are not part of a screening. They are separate.
Yeah just found that out. But I think the pku is the only one included with the screening test. At least according to this site: http://www.vaclib.org/exempt/utah.htm

Quote:
I got tested for gonorrhea and all STDs in my last month of pregnancy to be sure I could skip the eye ointment.
That's a good plan. I'll be talking to my ob on my next appointment so I can get tested for all those too (not that I have any) my issue is let's say that I don't have any but then come labor and they have to put the ointment on the baby because it's the law and I didn't sign anything refusing it yk? That's one of the reasons we'll be doing a very specific birth plan.

Quote:
Definitely check with the hospital and talk to people. WY technically says only religious exemption for eye ointment or vitamin K shots, yet I know plenty people who just said no at the local hospital with no further issues... I had DS in CA and there it was not a biggy... Ask the hospital how they work, e.g. as the hospital in CA didn't do the HepB shot, it was the ped on call who would want to do it. The nurses didn't do it for sure. We had to throw one ped out basically, man they pester you like CRAZY about that stuff.
That's technically how it is here for the vit. k but since xposting on my tribe I got responses from mamas that delivered there and mamas that are going to deliver there and they said that you can say no to all of those things. The only one they make a big deal about is the pku being done (as far as if you want to do it privately) if you're doing it outside of the hospital.

Quote:
We will officially opt out of the CO newborn screening as we do it privately - we will pay $200 for it with a private lab which screens for 55 diseases and they will destroy the blood sample after the test is done, while all states keep a sample on hand until the child turns 18 and they can do with it what they want. We are not comfy with anyone having a DNA sample of our child, no way!
Someone on my tribe referred me to a great private lab that tests for much more than my state does. I'm really considering going with them, especially now that you mentioned that they keep the blood sample to do whatever they want with it. I wouldn't want anyone having a sample of my baby's son either. So yeah I'll be calling the hospital for sure to see what we need to sign to do this privately and if we need to sign anything to refuse the eye ointment.

Quote:
As for the K, we do oral vitamin K, dutch protocol. We know we don't need the eye ointment, no STDs here, and actually if one of us cheated, which is the card they always play, we are honest enough to admit such a thing to each other if it happened because it would affect our baby's life. I truly do not see the point if mom lives in a monogamous, loving, honest relationship.
I was wondering about the oral vit. K. Does your dr. or mw have to order it? Can you buy your own? We're thinking about going that route with the vit. k as well. Also about the STD's that's exactly the card that nurse from the health dept. played when I talked to her about it. Exactly the case here. If dh ever cheated on me he'd tell me because it would be affecting our baby's life.

Quote:
Yeah, the PKU was done last time before DD was 24 hours old, no way my milk was in yet (and baby should be nursing milk for it to be valid, so they normally say like 3 days). And then they DIDN'T do it at the peds. They said we'd have to get an order written up and go to the hospital to get it done later. SIGH.
Exactly when they did it to my son on my last pregnancy. My milk wasn't even in yet but I had no idea that it's more helpful when the milk is in.


Again thank you everyone for posting. I feel more empowered knowing what I know now when I call the hospital. Thank you all again for your expertise and if you read this whole post I apologize for it being so long
nia82 03:58 PM 10-03-2010
You can buy vitamin K from birthwithlove.com, I got it there last time for DS. It is preservative free, plant based, taste and odorless. We did the protocol back then like Europeans do with Konakion (oral vitamin K made by Roche, which is standard back home), which is one drop three times over the first weeks of life. The dutch protocol seems a little better though (just gonna be hard to dose it lower, so we sort of will modify to our own schedule)... Our midwives actually have the oral vitamin K, but I need to buy it since we live 2 hours from the birthing center, so it would make no sense to drive down for the drops... It is about $30 for a bottle that would last for a bunch of newborns!
BRmama's Avatar BRmama 04:11 PM 10-04-2010
Quote:
You can buy vitamin K from birthwithlove.com, I got it there last time for DS. It is preservative free, plant based, taste and odorless. We did the protocol back then like Europeans do with Konakion (oral vitamin K made by Roche, which is standard back home), which is one drop three times over the first weeks of life. The dutch protocol seems a little better though (just gonna be hard to dose it lower, so we sort of will modify to our own schedule)... Our midwives actually have the oral vitamin K, but I need to buy it since we live 2 hours from the birthing center, so it would make no sense to drive down for the drops... It is about $30 for a bottle that would last for a bunch of newborns!
Great thanks for the info!
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