All pregnant women in the UK are offered antenatal screening tests*. It is always your choice to have a screening test.
Screening tests are not harmful to your baby but they can lead to decisions about tests that do carry a risk to your pregnancy.
Diagnostic tests such as CVS and amniocentesis carry a small risk (approximately 0.5% or 1 in 200) of causing a miscarriage which means the decision about whether to have them can be difficult. Unfortunately, there is no other way of knowing for sure whether your baby has Down’s syndrome, Patau’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome and certain other genetic conditions.
*The types of screening tests offered to women may vary across the four countries of the UK.
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.
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