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Blood tests for your newborn baby - Newborn screening test

neonatal; neonate; newborn; new; born; screening; test; Guthrie; heelprick; blood;

Screening newborn babies for health problems (congenital disorders) by doing a blood test is an established worldwide public health practice.

  • The Newborn Screening Test is done using a small sample of blood collected when the baby is about 2 days old.
  • From this sample, several tests are done to detect rare, but serious health problems, often before there is any sign that the problem exists.
  • Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can greatly reduce, and often prevent, the effects of the problem for the rest of the individual’s life.

The Newborn Screening Test blood-spot sample is collected by a midwife in the hospital where your baby is born. If your baby is not born in a hospital or if you and your baby are discharged before the test is done, the blood-spot sample may be collected at home.

  • To collect the blood, the baby’s heel is pricked, and a small piece of special filter paper is soaked with four small spots of blood and allowed to dry.
  • In South Australia the blood-spot is sent to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital where it is tested and the results sent back to the hospital or midwife within a week.

Over 30 different health problems can be detected using these blood-spots. These include Phenylketonuria (PKU), Galactosaemia, Congenital Hypothyroidism (CHT), Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and several conditions affecting the breakdown of fats (fatty acid oxidation defects) and proteins (amino acid metabolism disorders). Using advanced technology known as Tandem Mass Spectrometry, several tests can now be performed on each blood-spot.

Your doctor or midwife will contact you if there is any suggestion that your baby might have a problem. A repeat of this test may sometimes be required because of a poor sample or for a slightly elevated result.

For more information

Women's and Children's Hospital (South Australia) Neonatal Screening Centre 

For information about the conditions

Children's Hospital Westmead – NSW Newborn Screening Programme


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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see your doctor or midwife.


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