Newborn screening tests

You will be offered two screening tests for your baby after the birth: newborn metabolic screening (which checks for certain serious rare conditions) and newborn hearing screening.

These screening tests are both free.

If the results show that your baby has an increased chance of having a metabolic disorder or hearing loss, further testing will be offered.

It is your decision to have your baby screened. The Ministry of Health strongly recommends both screening tests for your baby.

Newborn metabolic screening

The newborn metabolic screening test screens for rare but potentially serious conditions that can make your baby very sick. Finding out early that your baby has a condition means that treatment can start quickly, before your baby becomes sick.

The screening test is done when your baby is 48 hours (2 days) old or as soon as possible after this – it can be done in hospital or at home. The screening test is also called the ‘heel prick’, ‘Guthrie’ or ‘PKU’ test. Your midwife will collect a small amount of blood from your baby’s heel onto a blood spot card.

 You can find out more about it at Newborn metabolic screening.

Newborn hearing screening

Newborn hearing screening checks whether your baby hears well. Hearing screening is usually done before you and your baby go home from hospital. However, it can also be completed at your local health clinic or hospital outpatients’ clinic.

Ideally, your baby will be screened within the first few days of birth and screening should be completed by the time your baby is 1 month old. However, your baby can be screened up until they are 3 months old.

Soft cups will be placed on your baby’s ears and soft clicking sounds played through the cups. A computer will show how your baby’s ears respond to the sounds.

You can find out more about it at Newborn hearing screening.

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