All pregnant women in the UK are offered antenatal screening tests*. It is always your choice to have a screening test.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland does not have a standardised national programme of antenatal screening for fetal anomalies. The screening offered to women will vary between hospitals. Find out more here.

What is the difference between a screening and a diagnostic test?

  • A screening test in pregnancy cannot give you a yes/no answer as to whether your baby has a condition. It can only tell you what the chances are of your baby being affected. Screening tests in pregnancy include blood tests and ultrasound scans**.
  • A diagnostic test in pregnancy can tell you for definite whether your baby has a condition or not. Diagnostic tests in pregnancy include CVS, amniocentesis and ultrasound scans*.

**ultrasound scans can suggest there might be a condition (as in screening for Down’s syndrome) or confirm there is a condition (as in diagnosing spina bifida).

All tests should be fully explained to you by your doctor or midwife before you have them.

Screening for Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome and Patau’s syndrome

Screening tests for these three conditions are non-invasive tests which are offered to all pregnant women in the UK...

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Diagnostic tests

Invasive diagnostic tests (CVS and amniocentesis) can tell you for certain if your baby has a chromosomal condition...

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MRI scans

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a type of scan that uses a large magnet, pulses of radio waves, and a computer to create images of your baby...

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Prenatal genetic screening tests

All women in England, Scotland and Wales are offered screening tests for Down’s syndrome, Edwards syndrome and Patau’s syndrome and sickle cell disease and thalassaemia...

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Prenatal genetic testing and multiple pregnancies

Expecting twins, triplets or higher multiples affects the genetic test options in a pregnancy. Parents in these circumstances...

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