All newborn babies are screened for a range of health conditions shortly after their birth. Screening for all these conditions is strongly recommended, but it is not mandatory. If a baby has one of the conditions, the long-term benefit of screening with early treatment is much greater than the small discomfort they feel when the blood sample is taken.
All babies born in Ireland are screened for the six medical conditions below soon after birth. This is often called the ‘Heel Prick Test’. Newborn screening for Phenylketonuria (PKU) started in Ireland in February 1966. Ireland was one of the first countries in the world to have a national screening programme. Since then other conditions have been added, including Cystic Fibrosis in July 2011. More conditions will be added in the future.(ref: HSE)
Maple Syrup Urine Disease
The Newborn Bloodspot Screening Test is done between 72 hours and 120 hours after your baby is born. The public health nurse or midwife will prick your baby’s heel using a special device to collect some drops of blood onto a special card.
HSE Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Programme is available nationwide for all babies. One to two babies in every 1,000 born in Ireland are born with a hearing loss in one or both ears. Most babies born with a hearing loss are born into families with no history of hearing loss so it is important to screen all babies as early as possible. The hearing screen will usually be carried out while the baby is settled or sleeping at the mother's bedside. Any baby who does not have a clear response from the screen will be seen for a full audiological (hearing) assessment at a HSE Audiology Clinics (hearing clinics). (ref: HSE)
The hearing screen ideally takes place before your baby goes home from hospital. A trained Screener carries out an automated hearing screen, usually when the baby is asleep at the Mother’s bedside. Babies discharged before the screen can be offered an appointment to complete the screen in an Outpatients Clinic.