Pregnancy screening

Screening tests are offered to all pregnant women to assess the chance of you or your baby having a health issue.

They don't provide a definite diagnosis, but help you and your midwife decide whether you need further tests to make a diagnosis.

Changes to Pregnancy Screening

In addition to existing screening tests, from 28 September women with a booking appointment will now be offered:

  • screening for Edwards’ syndrome and Patau’s syndrome in the first trimester
  • second Line Test: Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT)
  • updated screening for twin pregnancies

The changes will mean that:

  • Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome, and Patau’s syndrome are three separate conditions which you can decide to be screened for using one blood test. This test is to find out how likely it is that your baby has either Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome or Patau’s syndrome.
  • NIPT will be offered as a second-line screening test option to those women who have received a higher-chance result that their baby may have Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome or Patau’s syndrome.
  • You’ll be offered the same screening choices if you’re pregnant with twins as you would be if you were pregnant with one baby.

You will have the option to choose whether you have these tests or not. Your midwife can help you understand if you will be able to have these new tests and will provide you with more information at your appointment.

Your pregnancy, your choice

It's important that you understand the purpose and possible results of the screening tests before you decide whether or not to have them.

You may choose not to be screened because you don’t want to know whether your baby has a health issue. You may choose to be screened so you can get support earlier and make decisions for you and your baby. For example, to prepare or plan treatment for after your baby's born.

You can discuss all screening tests with your midwife.

What tests will I be offered during my pregnancy?

During your pregnancy you'll be offered:

These are used to test for:

  • blood count, blood group and Rhesus status (positive or negative)
  • sickle cell and thalassaemia
  • infectious diseases (hepatitis B, syphilis and HIV)
  • Down’s syndrome
  • fetal anomalies

You'll also be offered diagnostic tests if any conditions are suspected.

When will I have these tests?

Some pregnancy screening tests should take place as early as possible in pregnancy, ideally by 10 weeks, but can be done later on if necessary. However, some other tests can only be done at a certain time during pregnancy (for example screening for Down’s syndrome).

What tests will I be offered after birth?

Towards the end of your pregnancy your midwife will talk to you about newborn screening.

Pregnancy screening leaflet

NHS Health Scotland has produced a leaflet explaining pregnancy screening in Scotland, why it's offered and what happens next if the test finds that your baby might have a condition or disorder.

This leaflet is available in English and other languages.

You're pregnant! Scans and tests leaflet

Other formats


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