Screening tests

Maternal screening in pregnancy

During the first half of pregnancy various tests are offered to check for potential problems, using blood tests and ultrasound scans. The tests listed here are the ones usually recommended by the NHS Screening Committee. Further information can be found at or from your midwife or doctor. Do not hesitate to ask what each test means. The choice is yours and you should have received relevant information to help in your decision.

 There is an antenatal screening coordinator and a team of antenatal midwives who can give information and support with all aspects of antenatal screening. Antenatal Clinic can be found on Level B (Outpatients 1).


This is caused by too little haemoglobin (Hb) in the red blood cells. The Hb is usually determined as part of the full blood count. Hb carries oxygen and nutrients around the body and to the baby.

Anaemia can make you feel very tired and you will be less able to cope with losing blood at the time of delivery. If you are anaemic, you will be offered iron supplements and advice on diet.

Blood group and antibodies

This test tells us whether you belong to Group A, B, 0 or AB; whether your blood is Rhesus Positive (Rh +ve) or Rhesus Negative(Rh-ve)); and whether you have any antibodies (foreign blood proteins).

If you are Rhesus Negative, you will be offered blood tests to check for antibodies. If your baby has inherited the Rhesus Positive gene from its father, antibodies to the baby’s blood cells can develop in your blood. To prevent this happening, new guidelines now recommend that Anti-D be given, by injection, routinely to all Rhesus Negative mothers at 28 and 34 weeks of pregnancy. Anti-D should also be given to Rhesus Negative mothers whenever there is a chance of blood cells from the baby spilling into the mother’s blood stream (e.g. due to miscarriage, amniocentesis or CVS, vaginal bleeding, a blow to the abdomen and after the birth of the baby).

Rubella (German Measles)

Rubella infection early in pregnancy can affect your baby. A test is offered to check your immunity (ability to fight infection). Most women are protected by routine rubella vaccinations given in childhood, but if you are not immune, you will be advised to have a vaccination after the birth.

Hepatitis B

This is a virus which infects the liver. If you are a carrier of the virus or have become infected during pregnancy, you will be advised to have your baby vaccinated at birth to avoid infection.


This is a sexually transmitted disease which is now relatively rare, but on the increase. If left untreated it can affect your baby. Should it be detected, you will be offered treatment with antibiotics to control the infection and to help protect your baby.


The Human Immunodeficiency Virus affects the body’s ability to fight infection. This test is important because any woman can be at risk. It can be passed on to your baby during pregnancy, at birth or through breastfeeding.

Treatment given in pregnancy can greatly reduce the risk of infection being passed from mother to child. A negative test does not affect past or future life insurance claims.

Sickle cell and thalassaemia

These are blood disorders that can be passed from parent to child. You will be offered a blood test if you or your family areoriginally from an area with high occurrence of the disorder, or if there is an increased chance of you being a healthy, silent carrier. This is the case if you or your family comes from Africa, the Caribbean, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South East Asia, China, the Middle East, or Mediterranean countries (e.g. Greece, Italy, Turkey, Cyprus). The results may require the baby’s father to be tested

Additional blood tests

These are offered as required during pregnancy. The majority of women carry immunity to common infections which also protects the developing baby but as infections can have an effect on a baby of a non immune mother, you should inform your midwife or doctor if you develop a rash or come into contact with any infectious disease.

Anaesthetic pre-assessment

There is a clinic is for expectant mothers who may have anaesthetic related questions or worries as well as for those with medical conditions that may have some bearing on local anaesthetic techniques, including epidurals and/or general anaesthetic techniques.

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