In the first week after birth, children are tested for congenital disorders. This is done by drawing some blood from the child’s heel. This test is known as the heel prick (hielprik) or newborn blood spot screening.

This webpage contains information about the screening, its organisation and backgrounds.

What does the newborn blood spot screening involve?

In the first few days after birth, all babies are offered a newborn blood spot screening. The child's blood is screened for a number of rare, serious, often hereditary disorders. The timely tracing of these disorders can prevent or minimise serious damage to its physical and cognitive development. These disorders can not be cured but they can be treated.

Since 1 January 2007, the number of disorders tested for in the blood spot screening was significantly expanded, with the addition of a number of metabolic disorders and sickle cell anaemia.

On 1 May 2011, cystic fibrosis was also added to the newborn blood spot screening. Screening for sickle cell anaemia can also detect disease carrier status. Parents can choose not to receive any information about carrier status.

As of 1 January 2017, the disorders alpha and beta thalassaemia were added to the neonatal blood spot (‘heel prick’) screening programme.

English information

The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment ) is actively involved in this topic. Unfortunately, most information is currently available only in Dutch.

RIVM protects and promotes human health and environmental quality. It acts as the Dutch government’s main centre of expertise in these areas.

Go to topic Heel prick on the Dutch site.

Centre for Population Screening
Att. Programme Manager for Newborn blood spot screening