The ‘Prenatal Screening for Infectious Diseases and Erythrocyte
is conducted during the first trimester, i.e. before the 13th week
of pregnancy. It involves a simple blood test and an echogram to
identify any abnormally high risk of Down Syndrome. A further
echogram is taken at twenty weeks to detect any physical
Soon after birth, the baby is given the Guthrie test, also known as the ‘heel prick’. This involves taking a very small sample of blood from the baby’s heel, which is then tested in the lab for serious but treatable diseases. The baby’s hearing is also tested.
Perinatal screenings form part of the national population
screening programme. RIVM is responsible for their
coordination and direction. RIVM must ensure that all
parties within the chain play their role as effectively as
possible, with appropriate communication. We therefore produce
guidelines, national agreements, intervention plans and information
for both professionals and the general public.
At the regional level, the PSIE and heel prick are administered by the RIVM Regional Programme Coordination office. Other screening programmes are managed by external organizations. The population screenings are actually conducted by a chain of professionals and organizations who work closely together: midwives and obstetricians, echoscopists, gynaecologists, the Prenatal Screening Centres, youth health services and laboratories.