Most antenatal screening tests will not find anything, but there's a chance you'll be told your baby could be born with a condition.
If this happens to you, there's always support available.
Get as much information as you can
It can help to find out as much as you can about the condition your baby may have.
A specialist doctor (obstetrician) or midwife will explain what the screening results mean and talk to you about your options.
Your appointments should take place in a private and quiet space. But this can sometimes be difficult in a busy hospital.
You can bring your partner, a family member or friend with you.
It might help to write down any questions you have before you go. Ask the doctor or midwife to explain anything again if you need them to.
You could ask things like:
- Can you explain what my baby may have?
- What would that mean for my baby?
- Will we need any special care or treatment before birth?
- What would life be like for my baby if they have this condition?
Read more about conditions screened for in pregnancy
- anencephaly (GOV.UK)
- bilateral renal agenesis (GOV.UK)
- cleft lip and palate
- congenital heart disease
- congenital diaphragmatic hernia (GOV.UK)
- Down's syndrome
- Edwards' syndrome
- exomphalos (GOV.UK)
- gastroschisis (GOV.UK)
- severe skeletal dysplasia (GOV.UK)
- sickle cell disease
- spina bifida
- Patau's syndrome
You may be offered a further screening test called non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT), which is a blood test.
You may also be offered diagnostic tests that can check if your baby definitely has the condition screening tests have said they might have.
The tests you may be offered are:
You may also have further scans.
It's up to you to decide if you want to do any further tests. You can discuss this with a doctor or midwife.
Making a decision to continue with or end your pregnancy
This can be a very difficult decision. You may find you feel differently from one day to the next.
You do not have to make this decision on your own. Speak to your doctor, midwife, family and friends about your options.
You have time to think about your decision – whatever you decide, you'll have support.
Read more about what may happen if you:
Support is available
It can help to speak to:
- your partner, family or friends
- a midwife or specialist doctor
- a local support group
- charities that support families with your baby's condition
- a counsellor – you do not need a referral from your GP (find out more about counselling)
Charities you can contact
- Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC) – a charity who can support you in your decision
- Down's Syndrome Association
- Sickle Cell Society
- Support Organisation for Trisomy 13 and Trisomy 18 (SOFT UK) – for families affected by Patau's syndrome (Trisomy 13) and Edwards' syndrome (Trisomy 18)
- UK Thalassaemia Society
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