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Definition of «Heel stick»

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Heel stick: A procedure in which a newborn baby's heel is pricked and then a small amount of the blood is collected, usually with a narrow-gauge ("capillary") glass tube or a filter paper.

The heel stick is now the most common way to draw blood from newborns. Blood from a heel stick is used to do the newborn screening tests. These tests are usually done before the baby leaves the hospital. If the blood tests are performed earlier than 24 hours after the baby is born, a repeat test is recommended at 1 to 2 weeks of age. The most common newborn screening tests in the U.S. include those for hypothyroidism (underactivity of the thyroid gland) , PKU (phenylketonuria), galactosemia, and sickle cell disease.

The heel stick was invented in 1923 by a Danish pediatrician named Paul Drucker.

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