Information Regarding Antenatal Testing

In the UK all women are offered a number of screening tests in pregnancy. Some women feel they need more.

It is important to understand that the initial tests offered to everyone by the NHS are “screening” tests, not “diagnostic” tests. This means that they do not give a definite answer about your baby’s health, instead they are used to try to identify those who are at higher chance of particular conditions so that more specific tests can then be offered.

You will be asked to choose if you want these tests. It is important to consider both positive and negative issues before making a decision. Many people will have the initial screening tests without considering the possibility that they may be faced with a higher chance result, or in the mistaken belief that they are ensuring that “everything is OK”. Realistically there is no test at any point in life which can tell you that everything is going to be OK. The tests are limited to specific conditions and both false positive and false negative results are possible.

Testing for the chromosomal conditions trisomy 21, 18 and 13 (Downs, Edwards and Pataus syndromes) has been much debated in the media in the last few years. The NHS offers a screening test for these conditions to all women. More information can be found in my blog covering both sides of the debate. NIPT (non-invasive prenatal testing) is a more specific and sensitive type of test, and is now available in some areas of the UK within the NHS. Tradenames for this kind of tests include Harmony, Panorama, SAFE and many more. Angie offers the SAFE test in appropriate cases.

Angie has extensive experience and knowledge in relation to antenatal tests and will spend time with you ensuring that your questions are answered and that you understand the implications of either testing or not testing before you make a decision.

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Angie Bowles, specialist midwife supporting choice. Reach out for help or advice today. Angie reads and replies to every one.