Metabolic Screening Test


For more information about the metabolic screen in Singapore, speak to your healthcare provider, or call the National Expanded Newborn Screening Laboratory at 6394 5049.

If you are delivering your baby at Raffles Hospital, your baby will be screened. Please note that you have the right to refuse the metabolic screen. If this is your wish, please speak to your health care provider.

A New Beginning of Life –

You are met with the arrival of your new bundle of joy. As a parent, your baby’s health is your first priority. To ensure that your baby gets the best start in life and stays healthy, your newborn can be screened for at least 25 rare metabolic disorders.

Although most newborns with these disorders look healthy at birth, they may be at risk of having serious health problems later in life. These could include leaning difficulties, recurrent sickness and even death if their disorder is not detected and treated early.

Early Detection Allows Early Treatment

Individually, these disorders are very rare. As a whole, they affect about 1 in 2500 to 3500 births in Singapore. By testing newborns on their first day of life, such disorders can be treated early before any signs or symptoms surface. 

Metabolic Screening in Singapore

When the body cannot successfully breakdown (metabolise) some substances in food/milk such as fats, protein or sugar, they can cause serious health problems.

A metabolic screening test shows whether your baby is at high risk or low risk of having such a disorder. The metabolic screening looks for more than 25 metabolic related disorders in the following categories:

• Organic Acid Disorders
• Fatty Acid Oxidation Disorders
• Amino Acid Disorders

A Small Test with Big Benefit

In order to perform the screening test, a small blood sample will be drawn from your baby. A few drops of blood are collected on special filter paper by gently pricking the heel. The sample is then sent to the National Expanded Newborn Screening Laboratory for analysis.

Blood sample can be taken from your baby any time from 1 day (24 hours) to 7 days old. The best time for collection is from 1 to 3 days old (24 to 72 hours)

High Risk or Low Risk Results

When the sample has been analysed and results are available, one of the following will occur.

  • Your baby’s result is negative for all the disorders
  • More than 99 per cent of the babies fall into this category. It means that your baby is at very low risk of having these disorders. The result will be filed into your baby’s medical record. On very rare occasions, a disorder may not be picked up by the metabolic screening.

A repeat sample is required
A second sample is needed for about 1 in 100 babies. It is usually needed because the first sample may show borderline results, which may not indicate if a problem exists. You will be contacted  and arrangements will be made for another sample to be taken from your baby.

Your baby’s result is positive for one of the conditions
Having a positive result does not necessarily mean that your baby has a disorder. It only means that further tests are required. You will be contacted and arrangements will be made for further review with our metabolic physician. If a diagnosis is made, your baby will be given appropriate treatment right away.

It is important to know that most babies in Singapore are screened negative. These rare but life threatening disorders can usually be prevented with early diagnosis and treatment.