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Antenatal screening choices

Within this information, we may use the terms "woman" and "women". However, we recognise that not only people who identify as women may want to access this content. Your care should be personalised, inclusive and sensitive to your needs, whatever your gender identity.

We have a dedicated team of midwives who are responsible for ensuring that all eligible women and babies are offered screening tests within the recommended time frame.

We are based at Heartlands Hospital, though we work across University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, including Good Hope and Solihull hospitals.

Your community midwife will discuss the screening tests that will be offered to you throughout your pregnancy and once your baby is born. However, if you have any further questions, please contact our antenatal and newborn screening midwives.

What are screening tests?

Screening tests are used to highlight those who have a higher chance of a health concern. This can help people to get earlier treatment and make informed decisions about their health.

Screening tests are not always 100% accurate. It is a personal choice whether you decide to have screening tests or not.

Screening choices during pregnancy

Infectious diseases

This test involves blood being taken from your arm, and identifies whether you have hepatitis B, syphilis or HIV. Ideally, this test should be taken earlier than 10 weeks into your pregnancy.

Sickle cell and thalassaemia

This test involves blood being taken from your arm, and shows whether you carry any unusual haemoglobin variants (something in your blood which could indicate a health problem), as there is a chance that you can pass this on to your baby. It is recommended that this test is carried out earlier than 10 weeks into your pregnancy, or as early as possible.

Dating ultrasound

This is an ultrasound scan to confirm your baby’s well-being, number of babies and expected due date. This scan is usually performed between weeks 10 and 14 of your pregnancy. There are no known risks to you and your baby from having an ultrasound scan.

Trisomy screening

This is a screening test for Down’s syndrome, Edward’s syndrome and Patau’s syndrome in your baby. It's a risk assessment that provides either an "increased chance" or "lower chance" result.

This test does not tell you for certain whether your baby is affected. If you are counselled for receiving a higher chance result, a screening midwife will contact you to discuss your choices moving forward.

Mid-trimester ultrasound scan

This scan takes place between 18 and 20 weeks, 6 days of pregnancy, and looks for 11 different conditions in your baby.

The scan will look in detail at the baby’s bones, heart, brain, spinal cord, face, kidneys and abdomen. Most scans show that the baby is developing as expected, but the scan helps to find clear or suspected problems.

Some conditions can be seen more clearly than others. The scan identifies around 50% of babies with heart conditions.

Diabetic retinopathy screening

If you are pregnant and have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you will be offered a screening test to look for diabetic retinopathy. This is caused when diabetes affects the small blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye.

Screening tests for you and your baby

We recommend that you read the information on screening tests for you and your baby on the website before your midwife appointment. The information is available in a number of languages.

Last reviewed: 23 March 2023