Newborn Metabolic Screening Programme - heel prick test

Image of four babies
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.

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Page last updated: 01 December 2014