When a baby is about five days old, a midwife will collect a sample of blood by pricking the baby’s heel.
The card is sent off for analysis and parents receive the results of the blood spot test within a couple of months.
- Sickle cell disease: an inherited blood disorder. Treating babies will help prevent serious illness.
- Cystic fibrosis: a life-limiting inherited disorder that affects the internal organs, especially the lungs and digestive system.
- Phenylketonuria (PKU): a very rare condition that can cause mental disability (but is treatable once diagnosed).
- Congenital hypothyroidism: another rare condition that can lead to impaired growth and mental development. Treated babies can develop normally.
- Medium-chain acyl Co-A dehydrogenase deficiency (MCADD): a rare, but potentially life-threatening inherited disorder, where fat cannot be broken down by the body as well as usual.*
*Babies with MCADD develop normally, but recognising the condition early enables parents to make sure they eat regularly and avoid serious illness.