Data from the National Neonatal Screening Programme (PNRN), known as the "heel prick", reveal that 37,675 newborns were studied in the first six months of the year, 4,474 less than in the same period of 2020.

According to TSF radio, these values represent a historical minimum, as it is the lowest value since 1989.

According to TSF, in the last three decades, only two years had fewer than 40,000 babies born between January and June. It happened in 2013 and 2014, with around 39,000 newborns.

The PNRN data also show that the highest number of babies screened was observed in the districts of Lisbon and Porto, with 11,208 and 7,008 tests carried out, respectively, followed by Braga (2,765).

Bragança (253), Portalegre (269) and Guarda (282) were the districts with the fewest newborns screened.

Since 1979, the NNRN has carried out screening tests for some serious diseases in all newborn babies. The panel of screened diseases is made up of 26 pathologies: congenital hypothyroidism, cystic fibrosis and 24 hereditary metabolic diseases.

The test, carried out by collecting a few drops of blood from the child's foot, allows "the diagnosis of some serious diseases that are clinically difficult to identify in the first weeks of life and that, later, can cause mental retardation, severe neurological disorders, liver disorders or even coma", explains INSA.

The "heel prick" should be performed between the third and sixth day of the babies life and consists in collecting droplets of blood through a prick on the baby's foot.

Despite not being mandatory, the National Programme for Newborn Screening currently has a coverage rate of 99.5 percent.