Skip to main content

We use small files called cookies to help us improve your experience on this website and to provide services like web chat. We also use cookies to measure the effectiveness of public health campaigns and understand how people use the website.

Read our cookies policy to find out more about cookies and how we use them.

Coronavirus: Be responsible. Be safe

Health information and advice to stop the spread of coronavirus

Why we screen babies by heel prick

Most babies born in Ireland will not have any of the 8 rare but serious conditions that the heel prick checks for.

For the very small numbers of babies who do, detecting a condition early has huge benefits. It means we can treat your baby early, which can improve their health and prevent severe disability or even death.

Most of the conditions we screen for show no obvious signs and symptoms immediately after birth. Often there is no family history.

Without screening these conditions may not be obvious until later in infancy. Screening can help to find out if your baby has one of these conditions before they start to show any symptoms.

Why we screen at 3 to 5 days

All babies must have started feeding for a certain length of time before we can screen them, otherwise the results may not be accurate.

Since some of the conditions can make the baby sick relatively quickly, it is best to have the heel prick done before your baby is over 5 days old.

Conditions we screen for

Find out more about the 8 conditions we screen for:

page last reviewed: 28/11/2018
next review due: 28/11/2021