Newborn and childhood screening information

Although most babies are perfectly healthy when born, a small number have abnormalities of body chemistry (metabolism) which can lead to problems with growth and development. Some of these problems can be detected through a blood test. This involves taking a small amount of blood from a baby’s heel which is transferred to a card to produce a blood spot. Midwives usually take blood samples from babies within the first week of life.

The leaflet Your guide to newborn screening tests [external link] helps to explain these tests to parents.

A regular supply of leaflets can be requested from your local board and translations and alternative formats will also be made available from the Health Scotland website.

To support parents with learning disabilities the CHANGE resource - My Pregnancy, My Choice is being updated with information about the new screening programme.

Tests include:

  • The hearing screen test in the first few weeks after the baby is born.
  • The newborn blood spot test, usually carried out around five days after the baby is born. The midwife pricks the baby’s heel to obtain a few drops of blood. The blood sample will be tested for several rare conditions such as phenylketonuria, congenital hypothyroidism, cystic fibrosis, Medium Chain Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenase Deficiency (MCADD) and Sickle Cell Disorder. For more information on this type of test, see Your guide to newborn screening tests [external link]


  • An examination at 6-8 weeks, which includes checking the hips, heart and eyes (for cataracts).
  • All babies are examined carefully within the first three days of life so that any obvious physical abnormalities can be picked up as soon as possible. More information can be found in the Routine examination of the newborn booklet [external link].

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