Newborn screening

What is newborn screening?

Newborn screening is a heel prick test that is performed on babies in their first few days of life. This test can detect early signs of a number of congenital metabolic disorders. Detecting these conditions early means that the child can commence care and treatment for their condition as soon as possible.

Each year the Newborn Screening Program tests over 90,000 babies and detects about 90 who need urgent assessment and treatment. 

Newborn screening tests are free. The tests are not compulsory, and parents may refuse the test on behalf of their baby, but this could unnecessarily risk the baby's health. The pamphlet "Test to protect your baby" is essential reading for all mothers before their baby has the newborn screening sample taken. It is available in English and in nine other languages.