Your pregnancy and baby guide

Newborn screening

Your newborn baby will be offered some screening tests in their first six to eight weeks. These include:

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 six to eight weeks of age, as some conditions can take a while to develop.

See more about what's involved in 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 will be done by your health visitor or another health professional within the first few weeks.

See 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 nine rare but serious health conditions.

When your baby is about five days old, a midwife will collect the blood sample by pricking your baby’s heel and squeezing out a few drops of blood on to 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.

See more about the newborn blood spot test.

Page last reviewed: 04/06/2015
Next review due: 04/06/2018