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Section 1 - Introduction to antenatal screening tests 

― Antenatal Screening Tests booklet PDF
 

Your choices in pregnancy

During your pregnancy, you will be offered a number of different screening tests. This booklet contains important information about antenatal screening and testing. The information in this booklet will help you decide whether to have, or not have, some or all of the tests. You will have the chance to talk about the tests with your midwife. The NHS keeps the results of all tests confidential. Hospital policies vary on how many people have access to your test results. Your midwife will be able to explain the local arrangements that will apply to you. Your NHS number is unique to you and this number identifies you on NHS computer systems. If you have a copy of your NHS number, please have the number available when you first see the midwife or go to the hospital for your maternity care. 

This animation gives information on the screening tests you will be offered during pregnancy for you and your baby.

What are screening tests?

Screening tests can help to detect some of the conditions that you or your baby may have. They show what chance there is that you or your baby has the condition. They do not show for certain whether you or your baby has the condition screened for. The tests offered include blood tests and ultrasound scans. Sometimes the blood test or ultrasound scan can give an unclear result and further tests may be needed. If the result of a screening test shows you, or your baby, have a higher chance of having a certain condition, you may be offered further screening or an invasive test, for example an amniocentesis. Invasive tests give more certain results, but there is a small chance of them causing a miscarriage. For this reason, these tests are only offered where there is a higher chance of having a condition. You can find information on invasive tests in section 7 of this booklet

Screening tests can miss the condition they are screening for. The midwife can tell you how often this can happen with the tests.
 

What tests are available?

You will be offered the following screening tests
 

Usually at 11 to 14 weeks

An ultrasound scan to see

  • how many weeks pregnant you are
  • if your baby's heart is beating, and
  • if you are having more than one baby
     

In early pregnancy, usually before 14 weeks

You will be offered blood tests to detect:

  • infections that could harm you and your baby (these are HIV, hepatitis B and syphilis)
  • your blood group and Rhesus D group, and whether there are any antibodies in your blood, and
  • certain blood disorders which are inherited, such as sickle cell and thalassaemia.

All of these tests can be taken at the same time. You can choose which tests are carried out. Your midwife will tell you where the tests can be done.

You will also be offered:

  • testing for Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome and Patau’s syndrome

You can have a test to find out your chance of having a baby with Down’s syndrome and your chance of having a baby with Edwards’ syndrome or Patau’s syndrome. The test can often be done as part of the early pregnancy dating scan offered to you when you are between 11 and 14 weeks pregnant. You would also need to have a blood test on the same day.

If you go to the scan appointment and you are more than 14 weeks pregnant, you can have a blood test to find out your chance of having a baby with Down’s syndrome. This is normally carried out between 15 and 18 weeks of pregnancy.
 

At 18 to 20 weeks

You can have a fetal anomaly scan to see the way your baby is developing.
 

Deciding if you want to have the tests

Screening is your choice. It can be difficult to decide what tests to have. Some women do not want to know if they have any health conditions that could affect them or their baby. Others want to know if they have any health conditions that could affect them or their baby so that they can make decisions on treatment or, if there are unexpected findings, to prepare for the birth or consider ending the pregnancy

Take time to think before you decide. You can talk about the tests with your midwife and ask any questions you may have. When you have chosen which tests you want to have, the midwife will make arrangements for you

The sections in this booklet have information about each of the tests.
 

Where will the tests be done?

Your midwife will tell you where you can have the tests done.
 

Results
 

How will I get the result of my screening tests?

Your midwife will tell you how and when you will get the result of your tests. 
 

Will my results be confidential?

The NHS keeps the results of all tests confidential. Hospital policies vary on how many health-care professionals have access to your test results. Your midwife will be able to explain the local arrangements to you.
 

Please remember

  • You choose which tests you want to have.
  • No test will be done unless you agree.
  • If you do not come for a test you will not be sent a reminder.
     

If you change your mind

You can change your mind about your choices. If you decide to have a test and then change your mind before you have the test, please remember to tell your midwife so they can make a note in your maternity records.

 

Antenatal Screening Tests booklet PDF

Antenatal Screening Tests booklet PDF