Unlocking the potential of newborn blood spots

Newborn blood spots from a small sample of 98 Generation Scotland volunteers were tested to see if they could be used for health research on a national scale. Here's what we found.

Every baby born in Scotland since 1965 has a Guthrie card. It contains 4 drops of blood from newborn babies, that are collected a few days after birth from a tiny heel prick. This card also has details about when and where the baby was born. It's a unique record of every baby born in Scotland. 

So... what if these could be used for research? Our team had this same question. So, we decided to take a look into it. We conducted a study to see if using these blood spots was a good idea.

You can read more about the study, currently under review, here: 

Research feasibility and ethics in Scottish new-born blood spot archive

We selected 30 boxes of Guthrie cards, with blood spots and data from 98 of our volunteers. A team in the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Biorepository reviewed the cards and found there was enough information to link the cards to volunteer health records. They also found there were enough samples to do further blood sample testing.

We successfully matched the Guthrie cards to Generation Scotland volunteers. That means could take DNA from spare blood spots and accurately link any results to tests we did in blood samples collected almost 30 years later from our adult volunteers!

Take a look at our video below to learn more about Guthrie card research, how it can be used and, most importantly, how we keep the information safe.


Alternatively, if you do not wish to watch our video, you can find our FAQs below.