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Screening – blood tests and scans

Key staff

Your specialist midwife screening coordinator is Mel Bullas
Your deputy screening midwife is Tammy Ralphs

Contact: 01384 456111 ext. 3116

The purpose of screening in pregnancy is to identify if you are at risk of a particular disease or condition which may impact on you, your pregnancy or your baby. We offer all pregnant women a range of screening tests, including blood tests and ultrasound scans of your baby. Screening tests are also offered for babies soon after they are born so they can be given appropriate treatment as quickly as possible if needed.

Watch a video showing the screening tests available during pregnancy and for newborn babies:

 

Screening tests for you and your baby will be explained to you by your midwife when you see her for the first time. You will also be given information about them via a link on your mobile phone or as a leaflet if you prefer. This is also available in other languages, click here to view these. For an easy read version for people with learning disabilities, click here and for an MP3 audio file available for people with sight loss, click here.

You do not have to have any of the screening tests we offer, but it is important that you understand why they are being offered before you decide against them to make sure you are making a fully informed decision.

Blood tests

The first blood test we offer will screen for:

  • Blood group
  • Iron levels
  • Sickle cell and thalassaemia
  • Infectious diseases (HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B)

It is important that you attend for this blood test as soon as you can, ideally before 10 weeks of pregnancy or within three days of your first appointment with your community midwife. This allows us to identify anything that may need early intervention or treatment.  You don’t have to make an appointment for any blood tests you may need during your pregnancy, you can attend any of the walk-in sessions at either Corbett Outpatient Centre or Russells Hall Hospital as long as you have a request form from your doctor or midwife.

Click here for more information about blood test opening times and locations.

You will get the results of your blood tests at your next appointment with your community midwife or at your next antenatal clinic appointment. If you have any results that require further investigation, you will be contacted by the screening team directly.

Sickle cell and thalassaemia

If you know that you have one of these conditions, or that you are a carrier of one of these conditions, please contact the screening team on the above number as soon as you find out you are pregnant. This allows us to fast track your blood tests to check if any further intervention or tests are needed.

Scans

First trimester scan (around 12 weeks)

You will be offered a scan at around 12 weeks to determine when your baby is due and how many babies you are carrying. The sonographer will take a number of measurements to calculate your due date. As part of this scan, you will be offered screening for Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome and Patau’s syndrome. This involves taking an extra measurement of the back of the baby’s neck called nuchal translucency. This measurement, together with a blood test, are used to calculate the chance of your baby potentially being affected by one of these conditions.

It is completely your decision if you wish to have this screening. Further information can be found in the Public Health England leaflet Screening tests for you and your baby (see above), or you can contact the screening team on the contact number given above.

If you have decided to have screening for Down’s syndrome, and/or Edwards’ syndrome and Patau’s syndrome, you will receive your results in the following way:

  • ‘Increased’ chance (risk) – you will receive a telephone call from a member of the screening team inviting you to see them to discuss your options. This will usually be within seven days of you having your scan and blood test.
  • ‘Low’ chance (risk) – you will receive a letter confirming your screening test results within two weeks of you having your scan and blood test.

If you have not received your results within two weeks, please contact the screening team on the contact numbers given above. It is important to remember that this result does not mean that your baby is or is not affected. It merely gives you an indication of the likelihood. Further tests are needed to give a definite diagnosis, and this will be explained further by the screening team should the need arise.

Mid trimester scan (around 20 weeks)

This checks on how your baby is developing and looks in detail at various things including their brain, head, heart and limbs. Its purpose is not to tell you if you are having a girl or boy, although this may sometimes be possible. Sometimes, it might not be possible to get all the necessary measurements or a clear picture of some structures due to the position of the baby. If this happens, the sonographer may ask you to return on another day for a repeat scan.

Important things to remember about scans

  • Please attend for any scan with a full bladder. This makes scanning easier as it lifts the baby up out of your pelvis.
  • Only one other person is allowed into the scan room with you (please see advice on lateral flow testing prior to your appointment).
  • No children are allowed into the department at present due to COVID-19.
  • You can purchase a picture of your scan for £5 on the day, just let the sonographer know.
  • If we find anything abnormal or of concern on your scan, we will always tell you about it and arrange appropriate follow-up.
  • You may have other scans at different points in your pregnancy as deemed necessary by your midwife or consultant, but these will be explained to you if the need arises.

Key staff