In the UK babies are checked for hypothyroidism soon after birth. A test is performed when your baby is about a week old under the UK Blood Spot Screening Programme. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘heel prick’ test or ‘Guthrie’ test. A small amount of blood from the baby’s heel is placed on a filter paper and sent to a laboratory for analysis.
If the results show a high Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) level and a low thyroxine level and your baby is thought to have congenital hypothyroidism you will be contacted before the baby is three weeks old, and referred to a specialist.
Although learning that your baby has a lifelong condition can be a shock, with treatment your baby has every chance of being as healthy and happy as any other child.
Blood spot screening (the ‘heel prick’ or ‘Guthrie’ test)
Newborn blood spot screening identifies babies who may have rare but serious conditions.
All babies in the UK are screened for phenylketonuria, sickle cell disorders, cystic fibrosis, MCADD and congenital hypothyroidism. In some areas babies are also screened for other conditions. Your midwife will be able to give you further information. You will be asked to give your consent to the test.
Most babies will have normal results but if your child is thought to have one of the conditions, they will have further tests to confirm the results.
For more information, go to: www.newbornbloodspot.screening.nhs.uk/