Physical examination of the newborn: your midwife will complete an initial examination of your baby immediately after the birth. The first detailed examination will take place within 72 hours by a healthcare professional looking after you and your baby. The examination includes eyes, heart, hips and in baby boys checking if their testes are in the right place. The results will be given to you straight away. A second detailed examination will be done by your GP or health visitor when your baby is 6-8 weeks old. If  any problems are identified during wither of these examinations or at any time in between, your baby will be referred to ap appropriate specialist. The checking of your baby’s health and well-being is a continual process. Each time your baby is seen by your midwife, a detailed review of growth and development is carried out. If any problems are identified, a referral can be arranged. Please discuss any of the screening tests with your midwfie if you have any questions or concerns.

Newborn hearing screening: a small number of babies (1-2 in every 1000) are born with permanent hearing loss. A quick screening test can be done, usually before you leave the hospital. This can identify those babies with hearing loss, so that support and information can be given to you at an early stage. In some areas, the newborn hearing screening may be done at home or at a health clinic in the first few weeks of life. If the screening test results do not show a clear response from one or both of your baby’s ears, an appointment will be made to see a hearing specialist within four weeks. It’s very important that you attend the appointment in case your baby has a hearing loss. It is recommended to check your child’s hearing as they grow up. Information on how to do this is listed in your baby’s Personal Child Health Record (red book). If you have any concerns, tell your health visitor or GP.

Newborn blood spot test: All babies are offered a simple blood test to find out if they may be affected by the following; sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, congenital hypothyroidism, PKU, MCADD, MSUD, IVA, GAI or HCU. Babies with these conditions can be given early treatment to prevent serious problems. These disorders would not be recognised in a newborn baby, even after careful examination by a doctor. Your midwife will take a small sample of blood from your baby’s heel onto a card usually on the 5th postnatal day. This is then sent to a laboratory for testing. This may be uncomfortable and your baby may cry. You can help by making sure your baby is warm and comfortable. Sometimes it may be necessary to do a second blood spot test, but if this is done, the reason will be discussed with you. This does not necessarily mean there is something wrong with your baby.

  • Getting the results: you should receive the results by letter or from your healthcare professional by the time your baby is 6-8 weeks old. The results should be recorded in your baby’s Personal Child Health Record (red book). If you have been rested during your pregnancy, please let your midwife know so that your results can then be matched up with your baby’s results.
  • A positive result: the majority of results are negative. However, if your baby has one of these conditions, arrangements will be made for you to see a specialist team.

Early immunisations BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin): This is a vaccine offered to all babies who may be at higher than average risk from contact with tuberculosis (TB). These include babies whose families come from countries with a high incidence of TB such as Asia, Africa, South and Central America and Eastern Europe or babies born in a town or city where there is a high rate of TB. It is also offered to babies who have a relative or close contact with TB, have a family history of TB in the past five years or who plan to travel to a high risk country to stay for more than three months. TB is a potentially serious infection which usually affects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body. Treatment is with antibiotics. The BCG vaccination is usually given to the baby early in the postnatal period.

Hepatitis B: Babies born to mothers who have hepatitis B are at a higher chance of getting this infection and should receive a full course of vaccine in the first year of life. The first vaccination (sometimes with extra immunoglobulin) will be offered and recommended within 24 hours of birth and then at four, eight, 12 and 16 weeks with a final dose at one year of age with a blood test to check their infection status. It is very important for your baby to get these.