Newborn metabolic screening: The heel prick test

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Key points to remember

  • newborn metabolic screening (often known as the Guthrie test or heel prick test) is available to all New Zealand babies
  • the test is done 48 hours after your baby's birth (or as soon as possible after that)
  • while most infants look perfectly healthy, there are some disorders that aren't visible
  • early treatment of conditions can prevent potentially serious complications which can cause permanent damage or even death
  • to screen for these disorders, a sample of blood is collected from your baby's heel


Starship Foundation and the Paediatric Society of New Zealand acknowledge the co-operation of the National Screening Unit in making this information available for families.

This page last reviewed 18 September 2013
© Paediatric Society of New Zealand and Starship Foundation 2005 – 2015
Printed on 23 May 2015. Content is regularly updated so please refer to for the most up-to-date version
Content endorsed by the Paediatric Society of New Zealand