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Newborn screening 

You will be offered a newborn physical examination for your baby within the first 72 hours of his/her life. Your baby will be examined by a Midwife who has undergone specialist training, an Advanced Neonatal Practitioner (ANNP) or a Paediatrician (A doctor who specialises in looking after babies and children). Further checks are then carried out for all babies at 6-8 weeks by the family GP.

If your baby is on the neonatal unit, this examination will be carried out when your baby is well enough. The NHS Screening Programme booklet has further information. 

They will look at the baby from top-to-toe, and include 4 specific screening tests to find out whether your baby has a problem with their eyes, heart, hips or, in boys, their testes and would benefit from early investigation and possible treatment.

The outcome of the examination will be recorded in both the maternity hand held records and the baby’s personal child health record (red book).

What if a problem is found?

A problem may be found during the neonatal examination.  Usually these are minor problems which in many cases will require no treatment.  However in some cases further tests may need to be carried out either while you remain in hospital or as an outpatient following discharge.  Exactly what will be done will depend on what has been found.

If the examination is normal does that mean my baby is healthy?

In most cases this is true, but over the first few weeks of life your baby is still adapting to life outside the womb and problems can still develop during this time even if nothing obvious was found at birth.  This is why all babies will have regular checks with the community midwife initially, followed by the health visitor and GP

You will also be offered Newborn Bloodspot screening for your baby. This test is offered to all babies to screen for 9 rare but serious conditions.

The conditions screened for are congenital hypothyroidism, sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, and six inherited metabolic disorders (phenylketonuria, medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrognease deficiency (MCADD), Maple syrup urine disease, Isovaleric acidemia, glutaric aciduria type 1 and Homocystinuria).

If a baby is thought to have one of the conditions, he or she will need further tests to confirm this. 

If you, the baby’s father, or a family member already has 1 of these conditions, please tell your health professional straight away.

Your midwife will obtain a blood sample from your baby’s heel to be tested for these conditions. This is usually performed at your postnatal appointment when your baby is 5 days old.

For further information please refer to the National Screening Committee booklet: Screening tests for you and your baby (also available from your midwife during your antenatal care). 

You will also be offered hearing screening for your baby.

 

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