What are screening tests?

Your Midwife will offer you some screening tests during pregnancy to try to find any health conditions that could affect you or your baby.

The tests can help you make choices about further tests and care or treatment during your pregnancy or after your baby's born.

Please watch the video below for a very brief summary of the screening tests available for both you and your baby. You can watch translated versions of this video on Vimeo.


Your midwife or GP should give you a website link to a booklet about antenatal and newborn screening called Screening tests for you and your baby.

Also, have a look at the Antenatal and Newborn Screening Timeline below to understand the optimum stages for each test:

Download PDF (9.5KB)

Meet the local Team

The Antenatal and Newborn Screening Team for East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust is primarily based at the Lancashire Womens and Newborn Centre within Burnley General Teaching Hospital.

Debbie Taylor
Debbie Taylor - Midwifery Support Worker
Sadia Raza
Sadia Raza  - Clerical Officer
Joanne Hilton - Screening Coordinator

Contacting the Team

Screening/Wellbeing Team: 

Telephone: 01282 803019 / 01282 805665 / 01282 804487

Office Hours: Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm (excluding Bank Holidays)

Do you have the link for the screening tests?

Have a look at the following website. You can download it onto your smart phone and add it to your Home screen. It is a good idea to look at the information before you have your first appointment with your local Midwife.


When will I be offered screening?

Different screening tests are offered at different times during pregnancy.

The screening tests for Sickle Cell & Thalassaemia HIV, Hepatitis B and Syphilis, should be offered as early as possible before 10 weeks of pregnancy.

This is so you can be offered further tests if needed, specialist care and treatment to protect your health and reduce the chance of your baby getting infected.

You'll be offered screening for Down's syndrome, Edwards' syndrome and Patau's syndrome around the time of your dating scan, which happens when you're around 11 to 14 weeks pregnant. If you are over this gestation and/or the scan cannot be completed, then screening for Down's Syndrome only will be offered up to 20 weeks.

You'll be offered screening to check your baby's development at a 20-week scan when you're around 18 to 22 weeks pregnant.

What do screening tests involve?

The screening tests offered during pregnancy in England are either ultrasound scans or blood tests, or a combination of both.

Ultrasound scans may detect conditions such as spina bifida.

Blood tests can show whether you have an increased chance of inherited conditions such as Sickle Cell anaemia and Thalassaemia, and whether you have infections like HIV, Hepatitis B or Syphilis.

Blood tests combined with scans can help find out how likely it is that the baby has Down's syndrome, Edwards' syndrome or Patau's syndrome.

What are the risks of screening tests?

Screening tests are non-invasive tests. They cannot harm you or the baby but it is important to consider carefully whether or not to have these tests.

It's up to you whether or not you choose to have screening tests.

Will screening tests give me a definite answer?

This depends what the screening tests are looking for:


Screening tests for HIV, hepatitis B and syphilis are very accurate, and will tell for certain whether you have these infections.

If the test is positive, you'll be offered further tests and examinations by specialist doctors/clinics to find out the treatment you need.


Screening for Down's syndrome, Edwards' syndrome and Patau's syndrome cannot say for certain whether your baby has the condition. It tells you if your baby has a lower or increased chance of having the condition.

If your baby has an increased chance of a condition, you'll be offered as one of the options, a diagnostic test that gives a more definite "yes" or "no" answer.


Screening tests for Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia will tell you for certain whether you're a carrier or have these conditions. They will not tell you whether or not your baby has the condition.

If you or the baby's biological father are carriers or have the condition, you will be counselled and offered diagnostic tests to find out if your baby is affected.

Do I have to have screening?

No – it's up to you whether or not to have a screening test. It's a personal choice that only you can make.

You can discuss each of the screening tests you're offered with your midwife/Screening Team, and decide whether or not it's right for you.

Some of the screening tests you'll be offered are recommended by the NHS.

These include:

  • Blood tests for infectious diseases
  • Eye screening if you have pre-existing diabetes (not gestational diabetes)
  • Newborn screening tests

This is because the results from these tests can help make sure that you or your baby get urgent treatment for serious conditions.

What screening tests will I be offered in pregnancy?

Find out more about each of the different screening tests:

Some screening tests will also be offered to your baby after they're born:

(Taken from ‘Screening tests in pregnancy-Your pregnancy and baby guide – 04/08/2022)

Community Genetics

Our service was introduced to enhance the understanding of genetics within the community. Genes provide your body with instructions, for example what colour your hair will be, how your heart will function and how tall you will grow to be. Sometimes the genes in our body can be altered/changed which can give rise to a genetic condition. Families from all communities can be affected by genetic conditions, and it is at no fault of the parents, as the gene mutations occur by chance.

  • For a more in depth and easy to understand explanation on genetic conditions and the different ways they can be inherited/passed on, please take a look at our Genes & You page

It is known that families affected with a genetic condition may not understand its cause or the implications it could have on their wider family. These families care for children or adults who have multiple complex needs due to a genetic condition and are sometimes unaware of the help available to them. Thus, the community Genetic team was set up and we visit these families within their homes to provide information and offer support where we can.

What we can do for you?

  • Support you to access appropriate services 
  • Help you to understand information about your child's condition 
  • Provide support to your wider family
  • Provide language support
  • Visit you at Home 

Visit us on www.communitygenetics.org.uk for more information and contact details