England's chief medical officer Prof Dame Sally Davies has hailed the move to double the number of newborn genetic tests in a pilot scheme as a "fantastic step forward".

Currently around 700,000 babies in the UK are tested for five conditions every year including cystic fibrosis (which affects 250 babies a year), phenylketonuria, congenital hypothyroidism and medium chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (MCADD).

The scheme, which will run in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield means an additional 430,000 babies will also be screened for Maple syrup urine disease, Homocystinuria, Glutaric acidaemia type 1, Isovaleric acidaemia and Long chain fatty acidaemia.

All affect about one in every 100,000 births - or about seven babies - a year.

The chief medical officer for England, Prof Dame Sally Davies, said: "This fantastic newborn screening programme shows the NHS at the cutting-edge.

"This pilot will identify more babies with serious conditions, giving them the chance to live a long, healthy life."

Posted by Penny Hosie