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 cooperation 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 30 July 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