Pregnant woman having an ultrasound

Screening during pregnancy

During your pregnancy you will be offered screening tests to try to find any health conditions that could affect your baby. The tests can help you make choices about further diagnostic tests, treatment or care during your pregnancy or after your baby is born.

Royal Surrey offers antenatal and newborn screening tests based on good evidence and advice from the UK National Screening Committee. Watch this animation about the types of screening tests you will be offered.

Screening tests can find out if you or your baby have a high or low chance of having a health problem, but are not perfect. So people found to have a high chance of a problem or screen positive will be referred to our Screening Team to discuss the results and options for further testing.

Click here to read this NHS information booklet which will help prepare you for discussions with your midwife and ask the questions that are important to you

During your pregnancy you will be offered ultrasound scans and blood tests or a combination of both. Ultrasound scans may detect conditions such as spina bifida. Blood tests can show if your baby is at risk of having a higher chance of inherited conditions, such as sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia, and if you have infections, such as HIV, hepatitis B or syphilis.

A combination of blood tests and scans measures the likelihood that your baby has Down’s syndrome, Edward’s syndrome or Patau’s syndrome. If you have a lower chance you will not be offered a further test. If you have a higher chance result you will be offered a diagnostic test for these conditions. An amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling test can tell for certain if your baby has one of these syndromes. These tests carry a small risk of miscarriage.

If a higher chance of one of these disorders is reported, Royal Surrey also offers the SAFE test, a non-invasive prenatal test. A small sample of blood is taken from the mother to determine with remarkable accuracy whether a pregnancy has a high chance of being affected by Down’s syndrome Edwards’s syndrome and Patau’s syndrome. 

The SAFE test is also available privately from 10 weeks of pregnancy as part of the additional paid for services. Email the Royal Surrey maternity screening team for further information: rsc-tr.maternitysafetest@nhs.net.

Details of newborn screening can be found here.