The term 'screening tests' is used to describe investigations and tests for you and your baby to assess for potential medical conditions or problems. You will be offered various screening tests during your pregnancy and after your baby is born. We will always ask for your consent before carrying out any screening tests for you and your baby.

Antenatal Screening

At your booking appointment your Community Midwife will discuss antenatal screening tests with you and will direct you to the Gov.uk website to access information about the screening tests that are available.

It is important that you read and understand this information so that you can make an informed choice about antenatal screening. A Midwife will be able to answer any questions that you may have.

Maternal Screening

  • Calculating BMI – allows us to offer additional scans/blood tests
  • Booking bloods - you will be offered blood tests to check:
    • Your blood group
    • Your iron count
    • HIV status
    • For Hepatitis B
    • For Syphilis
    • For Haemoglobinopathies (sickle cell and thalassemia)

Ultrasound Screening

Ultrasound scans use soundwaves to build a picture of your baby in your uterus (tummy). There is no evidence that ultrasound scans, cause any harm to the baby or mother.

At Leighton Hospital, the Maternity Ultrasound Scan Department offers every pregnant woman a scan at around 12 weeks (dating scan/nuchal translucency) and 18-21 weeks (anomaly scan) of pregnancy.

One adult support person is able to accompany you. We understand that you may wish or need to have your child present during your ultrasound scan, however this can be distracting for our Sonographers. It is important that they are able to concentrate and carry out the scan effectively to help them identify any potential concerns with your baby. Therefore, children will not be allowed into the scan rooms.

Please ensure that you have childcare arranged on the day of your appointment, if this is not possible, contact Antenatal Clinic as soon as possible so that your appointment can be rearranged for when you do have childcare. If you arrive with your child without anyone to care for them, you will be given the option to rebook your appointment to enable you to arrange appropriate childcare.

Scan photos are available to purchase, information about how to pay for scan photos can be found on Maternity Outpatients Department (Antenatal Clinic).

Personal camera and video equipment cannot be used in the ultrasound room as they are likely to distract the Sonographer and detract from your personal involvement in the examination.

12 weeks (dating scan)

The main aim of this scan is to date your pregnancy and is usually carried out by 13 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy. Sonographers take measurements of the fetus, which allows them to calculate your due date. It is the date from the scan that is used throughout your pregnancy rather than going from your last period. The Sonographers can also perform a screening test called a nuchal translucency scan - this value, along with maternal blood tests, is then used to calculate a risk of having a baby born with Down’s Syndrome. These results are given to mum at sixteen weeks of pregnancy.

18-21 weeks (anomaly scan)

This scan is carried out between 18-21 weeks of pregnancy and checks that your baby is developing well. This scan is not designed to tell you the sex of your baby, but once all checks have been made the Sonographer may be able to offer you the chance to find out if you are having a boy or a girl. Please note this is not always possible, and is not always 100% accurate.

Growth scan

If you are at risk of having a baby that may be small or growth restricted, or your Midwife is concerned about the growth of your baby from measuring your abdomen, you will be offered additional scans during your pregnancy to monitor your baby’s growth and wellbeing.

Scan photographs

Please tell the Sonographer during the scan that you want a photograph.

For more information about purchasing scan photos, please see the Maternity Outpatient’s Department page.

Newborn Initial Physical Examination (NIPE)

Within 72 hours of giving birth, you will be offered a physical examination for your baby. This will include 4 specific screening tests to find out whether your baby has a suspected problem with their eyes, heart, hips or, in boys, their testes which would benefit from early investigation and possible treatment.

Newborn hearing screening

You will be offered a hearing screening test for your baby before discharge or you will be invited to attend a clinic appointment if you have had your baby at home, or have been discharged soon after birth. Newborn hearing screening is offered because 1 to 2 babies in every 1,000 are born with a permanent hearing loss in one or both ears. Most of these babies are born into families with no history of hearing loss. Permanent hearing loss can significantly affect a baby’s development. Finding out early can give these babies a better chance of developing speech and language skills.

Newborn blood spot screening

You will be offered the newborn blood spot screening which is carried out on day 5 after birth, to find out if your baby has any of nine rare but serious health conditions. Early treatment can improve your baby’s health and prevent severe disability or even death.

  • Sickle cell disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Congenital hypothyroidism
  • Phenylketonuria (PKU)
  • Medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (MCADD)
  • Maple syrup urine disease (MSUD)
  • Isovaleric acidaemia (IVA)
  • Glutaric aciduria type 1 (GA1)
  • Homocystinuria (pyridoxine unresponsive) (HCU)