Screening is the process of identifying women and babies who may be at an increased risk of a disease or condition and may require further information, tests and treatment.
Screening is important as it can save lives or improve quality of life through early risk identification and/or reduce the risk of developing a serious condition or its complication.
What screening tests will I be offered in pregnancy?
During your pregnancy, you will be offered a range of screening tests, including blood tests and ultrasound baby scans. They are designed to help make your pregnancy safer, check and assess the development and wellbeing of you and your baby, and screen for particular conditions.
You do not have to take any of the tests. However, it is important to understand the purpose of all of them so that you can make an informed decision about whether to take them. Discuss this with your maternity team.
Your midwife or GP should send you a booklet about antenatal and newborn screening called Screening Tests for You and Your Baby. It is important to read the booklet and inform your midwife of any relevant conditions that you, your partner or your immediate families may have. The booklet is available in English and many other languages here.
You can find out more about each of the different screening tests by clicking on the links below:
Ultrasound baby scans
It is recommended that all pregnant women in England are offered a minimum of two ultrasound scans during pregnancy. At the first antenatal appointment you will be offered an early pregnancy scan. This should take place after eight weeks and before 13+6 weeks of pregnancy. The purpose of the scan is to assess how many weeks pregnant you are, the number of babies you are having and check your baby’s wellbeing.
At 18+0 and 20+6 weeks pregnant you will be offered an anomaly scan. Its purpose is to look for any structural abnormalities (problems) your baby may have.
You will be offered screening for Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome and Patau’s syndrome between 11 and 14 weeks of pregnancy. This is called the combined test because it combines an ultrasound scan with a blood test. The scan can be carried out at the same time as the dating scan. If you are too far on in your pregnancy (more than 14 weeks) to have the combined test, you will be offered a blood test between 14 and 20 weeks of pregnancy that screens for Down’s syndrome. This test is not quite as accurate as the combined test.
Some screening tests will also be offered to your baby after they are born. You can read more about these tests by clicking on the links below: