Newborn Metabolic Screening Programme - heel prick test
The Newborn Metabolic Screening Programme screens for rare but potentially serious disorders such as phenylketonuria (PKU), cystic fibrosis, and congenital hypothyroidism.
A blood sample is taken from your baby’s heel at or as soon as possible after 24 hours of age (the ‘heel prick’ or ‘Guthrie’ test). If a disorder is found, early treatment can prevent permanent damage or death.
Did you know that...
- While most babies look healthy, there are some disorders that aren't visible.
- Early treatment of these disorders can prevent potentially serious complications which can cause permanent damage to the baby or even death.
- To screen for these disorders, a sample of blood is collected from the baby's heel.
- The screening is free to babies born in New Zealand. Information on eligibility is available at on the Ministry of Health website.
This six-minute DVD explains how screening can indicate if your baby has an increased chance of rare disorders. If any problem is found, your baby can receive the best possible treatment.
How to get your baby screened
Your Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) or midwife will discuss newborn metabolic screening with you during your pregnancy. You will be offered screening for your baby when aged 24 hours. If you have any questions about screening, have a look at the Frequently asked questions on this site, if there is no answer you can submit a question from that page.
In this section
The Newborn Metabolic Screening Programme is one of the most successful screening programmes in New Zealand.
This diagram guides you through the newborn metabolic screening process.
Information about the heel prick blood test that screens for metabolic disorders in newborns.
It is your right as parents or guardians to consent for your baby to be screened. Ask your lead maternity carer (LMC) for information to help you to make a decision. When your baby has screening, you also need to decide whether the leftover blood spots are stored or returned to you after screening.
Answers to some commonly asked questions about the Newborn Metabolic Screening Programme
Many New Zealanders participate in screening programmes and have their own stories to tell. We are privileged to be able to share some of those stories.
There is a wealth of knowledge available on the internet. Below are some recommended sites
Access information resources relating to newborn metabolic screening.
Page last updated: 01 December 2014