The Trust

Antenatal screening tests


All pregnant women are offered screening tests in their pregnancy to try to find any health problems that could affect them or their baby.The tests can help you make choices about care or treatment during your pregnancy or just after your baby is born. Additional information can be found via NHS Choices or in the 'Screening tests for you and your baby' booklet that you will receive before your booking appointment and is also available here

Screening is offered for

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) affects the body’s ability to fight infection. Any woman can be at risk. HIV can be transmitted to your baby during pregnancy, at birth or through breastfeeding and therefore early diagnosis and treatment is of very importance. If diagnosed, the treatment given in pregnancy can greatly reduce the risk of infection being passed from mother to child.

Hepatitis B is a virus which infects the liver. If you have been infected during pregnancy or are a carrier of the virus you will be advised to have your baby immunised at birth to avoid infection.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease which can seriously damage your baby if left untreated. If detected, treatment can be offered with antibiotics to control the infection and to help protect your baby.

Sickle Cell & Thalassaemia are blood disorders that can be passed from parent to child. The screening test is carried out to identify women who may carry the sickle cell or thalassaemia gene but are unaware of it. All women will be offered a blood test to screen for Thalassaemia and a questionnaire is used to identify if you are from the country with a high occurrence of this disorders and there is an increased chance of you being a carrier without knowing. The results may require the baby’s father to be tested to see if he is a carrier as well.

Down’s, Edwards & Patau’s syndromes are conditions caused by the presence of an additional chromosome in the baby’s cells.They occur at conception and are irreversible. All pregnant women are offered screening for all three conditions.These screening tests can show if there is an ‘increased chance’ of your baby having any of the syndromes. If your result shows an increased chance of your baby having any of the syndromes it is important to remember that it does not mean the baby definitely has any of the syndromes. However you will be offered an additional test to make an accurate diagnosis, such as Chorionic Villus sampling or Amniocentesis. It is also important to remember that a lower risk result does not mean there is no chance of that baby having any of the syndromes.

Down’s Syndrome is caused by an extra chromosome 21. A baby born with Down’s Syndrome (T21) will have a learning disability and some health problems for example heart conditions, hearing and vision. They can have distinctive facial features, like almond shaped eyes.

Edward’s Syndrome is caused by an extra chromosome 18. A baby born with Edward’s Syndrome (T18) can have heart problems and brain abnormalities. Sadly most babies with Edwards’ will die before they are born, be stillborn or die shortly after birth. T18 affects about 3 of every 10,000 births

Patau’s Syndrome is caused by an extra chromosome 13. A baby born with Patau’s Syndrome (T13) can have heart problems, cleft lip and palate, growth problems and kidney problems. T13 affects about 2 of every 10,000 births. Sadly most babies with Pataus’ will die before they are born, be stillborn or die shortly after birth.

Physical abnormalities in the baby

You will be offered a scan between 18 weeks - 20 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy to look in detail at the baby. The scan will examine the baby’s brain, face, spinal cord, heart, kidneys, abdomen and bones. The scan looks for certain physical abnormalities, if a problem is suspected you will be referred to a specialist to discuss the options available to you. You might be offered further tests to find out for certain if there is a problem.

We have close links with the fetal medicine unit at St Mary’s hospital in central Manchester and if problems are suspected from a scan you may be referred there.