Newborn screening

During the first few weeks after your baby is born, they will be offered some routine health checks. These checks are part of the Newborn Screening programme and include blood spot screening, newborn hearing screening and a physical examination.

Blood spot screening

In the first week after birth, you will be offered a blood spot screening test for your baby. Newborn blood spot screening identifies babies who may have rare but serious conditions.

Most babies who are screened will not have any of the conditions but, for the small numbers who do, the benefits of screening are enormous. Early treatment can improve their health and prevent severe disability or even death.

All babies in Northern Ireland are offered screening for:

  • phenylketonuria
  • congenital hypothyroidism
  • cystic fibrosis
  • sickle cell disorders
  • MCADD (medium chain acyl CoA dehydrogenase deficiency)

The leaflet at the following link has further details:

Physical examination

All babies will be offered a routine physical examination to check their hips, heart, eyes and testes (for boys) within the first few days of life and again between six to eight weeks of age.

These examinations aim to find any health conditions or abnormalities so that any tests or treatment required can be offered to your baby as soon as possible.

Newborn hearing

Newborn babies are offered hearing screening tests to check for any hearing loss. One to two babies in every 1,000 are born with hearing loss in one or both of their ears.

Screening all new babies' hearing means that those with hearing loss can be identified early.

The earlier any hearing loss can be identified the better as any loss could affect a baby or child's development. If necessary, support and information can then be provided for you and your baby.

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