How is newborn screening done?

Newborn screening usually starts with a blood test, followed by a hearing test and possibly other tests.

First, hospital staff fill out a newborn screening card with the infant’s vital information—name, sex, weight, and date and time of birth—and the date and time of the blood collection. Part of the card consists of special absorbent paper used to collect the blood sample.1

Blood sample being taken from a newborn's heel for screening

After warming and careful sterilizing of the infant's heel, medical staff do a "heel stick," in which they make a small puncture in the baby's heel and squeeze out a few drops of blood. They put the absorbent part of the card in contact with the blood drop. They continue until all the printed circles on the card contain a blood sample.

The card is then sent to a laboratory, where the blood is tested for the various conditions as part of the newborn screening panel.


  1. Baby’s First Test. (2012). Responding to results. Retrieved February 20, 2017, from 
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