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Newborn screening

Coronavirus (COVID-19) 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 or your baby have symptoms of COVID-19.

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

Why newborn screening is offered

Most babies are healthy and will not have any of the conditions the newborn 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 will not 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, testicles.

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

The newborn hearing 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 will be done by your health visitor or another healthcare professional within the first few weeks.

Find out more about the newborn hearing test

Newborn blood spot (heel prick) test

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

When your baby is about 5 days old, a healthcare professional will prick your baby's heel and collect a few drops of blood on a special card. This is 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: 12 July 2021
Next review due: 12 July 2024