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Newborn screening

Your newborn baby will be offered some screening tests in their first 6 to 8 weeks.

Coronavirus update

Newborn screening appointments and vaccinations are continuing as normal, including the:

  • newborn blood spot test
  • newborn hearing screening test
  • newborn physical examination

It's important to go to your appointments unless you, your baby or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus.

Why newborn screening is offered

Most babies are healthy and won't have any of the conditions the screening tests are looking for.

But for those babies who do have a health problem, the benefits of screening can be enormous.

Early treatment can improve their health and prevent severe disability or even death.

The screening tests are quick and simple, and won't harm your baby in any way.

It's recommended that your baby has the tests, but you can decline them if you wish.

Newborn physical examination

Every baby is offered a thorough physical examination soon after birth to check their eyes, heart, hips and, in boys, the testicles (testes).

This is to identify babies who may have conditions that need further testing or treatment.

The examination is carried out within 72 hours of birth and then again at 6 to 8 weeks of age, as some conditions can take a while to develop.

Find out more about the newborn physical examination

Newborn hearing screening test

The newborn hearing screening test is done soon after your baby is born.

If you give birth in hospital, you may be offered the test before you and your baby are discharged.

Otherwise, it'll be done by your health visitor or another health professional within the first few weeks.

Find out more about the newborn hearing screening test

Newborn blood spot (heel prick) test

The newborn blood spot test involves taking a small sample of your baby's blood to screen it for 9 rare but serious health conditions.

When your baby is about 5 days old, a midwife will collect the blood sample by pricking your baby's heel and squeezing out a few drops of blood onto a blood spot card. This is then sent off for testing.

The heel prick may be uncomfortable and your baby may cry, but it's all over very quickly.

Find out more about the newborn blood spot test

Page last reviewed: 25 May 2018
Next review due: 25 May 2021