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National newborn screening standards launched

The UK National Screening Committee has announced new national screening standards for the physical examination of newborn babies.

It is hoped that the standards will ensure that physical examinations, carried out 72 hours after birth and then again at six to eight weeks of age, are consistent across the UK.

It is normal practice for health visitors, nurses, GPs and midwives to examine baby's hearts, hip joints, eyes and testes in boys.

Currently each profession receives a different level of training to carry out such examinations, but new training programmes are to be brought in as well to ensure that all health professionals are consistent in their approach.

Sheila Shribman, national clinical director for children, young people and maternity services, said: "National standards will help to raise the quality of care delivered to babies and their families. That can only be a positive step - helping to give our babies the best start in life by early identification and treatment of conditions, and reassurance for parents."

Anne Mackie, director of programmes for the UK National Screening Committee, added: "I am delighted to be able to publish this document for the newborn and infant examination.

"This is an important programme. The implementation of these standards will ensure that the examinations are done to a consistently high standard and mean children have the earliest opportunity to have diagnosis and appropriate treatment."

Department of Health

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"Excellent plan...the quicker it is introduced the better. Variation in levels of training particularly new GP personnel has resulted in poor standards of screening for some infants." - Name and address supplied