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Antenatal scans and screening

Pregnancy care

Screening tests are used to find people with a higher chance of a health problem. This means they can access earlier, potentially more effective treatment, or make informed decisions about their health.

Screening tests are not designed to say if your baby will, or will not, have a problem. There can be false positives and false negatives.

Some people will be told that they or their baby have a high chance of having a health problem when in fact they do not have the problem. Also, a few people will be told they or their baby have a low chance of having a health problem when in fact they do have the problem.

screening test can find out if you, or your baby, have a high or low chance of having a health problem. However, it cannot usually tell you for certain, so if we find a high chance of a health problem, we often offer a further test.

This is called a diagnostic test and gives a more definite 'yes' or 'no' answer.

At your first antenatal appointment, your community midwife will offer screening for:

  • sickle cell and thalassemia
  • HIV
  • hepatitis B

Tests usually take place at this appointment, alternatively you will be booked to attend a clinic close to your home.

It is your choice if you have the screening tests or not. You can opt to have some tests and not others; this is a personal choice and one which only you can make.

You have the opportunity to discuss each test we offer you with your midwife, the sonographer or your doctor, and decide based on your own circumstances. You can also change your mind at any time.

Combined test

Serum blood screening in early pregnancy is performed alongside nuchal scanning, in order to identify high-risk pregnancies.

The test is performed at 11+2 to 13+6 weeks, and, if the results show an increased risk, we offer a diagnostic test, such as chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis, known as a prenatal diagnosis (PND).

  • Amniocentesis & Chorionic Villus Sampling

 We are now able to offer ‘non-invasive prenatal testing’ (NIPT) to women who have high chance combined screening or quad test results as an alternative to PND. 

Non-invasive pregnancy test (NIPT)

Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) is a much more accurate screening test than the first screening test (the combined or quadruple test). It involves taking some blood from your arm. It is completely safe and will not harm the baby.

NIPT does not tell you for certain if the baby has Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome or Patau’s syndrome. Like any screening test, NIPT does not give a definite answer. It will not be used to find other conditions or tell you whether the baby is a boy or a girl. NIPT is offered up to 21+6 weeks of pregnancy as part of NHS screening.

Quadruple test

We offer this test to women who are 14+2 to 20+0 weeks pregnant at the time of the scan or when it has not been technically possible to obtain the measurements required for the nuchal scan.

Four biochemical markers in the blood are measured, and with the mother's age and weight, are used to calculate the risk of the baby being affected by Down's Syndrome.

Further information on screening is available on the Mum & Baby app.