What the heel prick test is and what conditions it tests your newborn for 1 year ago

What the heel prick test is and what conditions it tests your newborn for

If you're a first-time parent you may not be familiar with the heel prick test and what it tests for.

Also known as the newborn bloodspot screening it is typically performed when your baby is less than a week old by your midwife/public health nurse.

The screening checks for 8 rare but serious conditions in babies.

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The 'heel prick' screens all newborn babies, usually when they are between 3 and 5 days old and will be carried out either in a hospital or at your home. Both of my children were tested at home by my public health nurse.

A small sample of blood will be taken from your baby's heel. This is why it is known as the heel prick.

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The sample will then be sent to laboratory staff who will check your baby’s blood for 8 rare but serious conditions including:

cystic fibrosis (CF)
congenital hypothyroidism (CHT)
phenylketonuria (PKU)
classical galactosaemia (C Gal)
glutaric aciduria type 1 (GA1)
MCADD (medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency)
homocystinuria (HCU)
maple syrup urine disease (MSUD)

All of these conditions affect the chemical processes in the body. Although rare, detecting them early can prevent disability or death.

The heel prick is free to parents in Ireland.

For more information on the heel prick test, you can visit the HSE website.