Infectious diseases

At your first antenatal appointment you will be offered a blood test for hepatitis B, HIV and syphilis. Knowing about these infections can be helpful in protecting the health of you and your baby.

Testing for hepatitis B in pregnancy

Hepatitis B is a virus that affects the liver. You can have this virus but still feel well. If you have hepatitis B you could pass it on to your baby, which could lead to your baby having liver problems in later life. If the test result shows you have the virus a course of vaccine will be given to your baby. This is very effective in reducing the risks of liver damage.

Testing for HIV in pregnancy

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a retrovirus that can result in your immune system becoming weakened, making it difficult to fight off infections. If you have HIV there is a risk you could pass it on to the baby. Screening for HIV is offered to all pregnant women. If your healthcare professionals know you have HIV they can take measures to help prevent this happening. They can also offer treatment that can benefit your health.

It can be distressing and worrying to find out in pregnancy that you have HIV. Your result will be confidential to your health care team and they will ensure you are offered support.

For more information on HIV and pregnancy


Testing for syphilis in pregnancy

Although syphilis is now a rare sexually transmitted disease, it is recommended that you are tested as it can be very harmful to you and your baby. If you are found to have syphilis, you will be given antibiotics which can successfully treat you and your baby.

It can be distressing to find out in pregnancy that you have syphilis. Your result will be confidential to your health care team and they will ensure you are offered support.

Testing for rubella susceptibility in pregnancy

NHS screening programme for rubella susceptibility ceased in England, Scotland and Wales in 2016.

This programme is stopping because rubella is now very uncommon due to the success of the MMR vaccination programme. Find out more about why women in England are no longer screened for rubella susceptibility 

It is important that we maintain the high level of immunisation. It is possible to have the MMR vaccination at any age, so if you suspect that you, or your children, are not up-to-date with your MMR, contact your GP.

Northern Ireland

Women in Northern Ireland are still screened for rubella susceptibility. It was felt that immunisation levels were not quite as high as the rest of the UK.  This is being kept under review.