Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Routine blood tests and scans offered in pregnancy

Posted on: February 1, 2009

During your pregnancy you will usually be offered the following blood tests:

Full Blood Count – Mainly to test for anaemia

Blood Group – In case you need a blood transfusion
Rhesus group and antibodies – To look for unusual antibodies in your blood/to screen for potential rhesus disease

Rubella antibodies – To check your immunity to rubella (German measles)

Syphilis – To check for syphilis which although very rare could be harmful to you and your baby if untreated

Hepatitis B – An infectious liver disease

H.I.V. – If you are HIV positive treatment can be offered to both you and your baby

Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia – These are genetic blood diseases, usually specific to certain populations (if you feel your ancestors may come from these areas it may be wise to be tested) – we are moving to “universal” testing for these conditions, i.e. that everyone is offered the blood test

* Parts of Africa (the region south of the Sahara Desert)
* Spanish-speaking areas like South America, Cuba, and Central America
* Saudi Arabia
* India
* Mediterranean countries, such as Turkey, Greece, and Italy

Serum screening – This testing performed at around 16 weeks of pregnancy will give a risk factor (high or low) for your baby having Down’s syndrome and neural tube defects (spina bifida). You need to think carefully what you would do with the result. Further investigations such as detailed ultrasound scan or amniocentesis may be offered if you have a high risk result. Amniocentesis gives a definite result but incurs a small risk of causing miscarriage.

You will probably be offered repeat Blood Group and Full Blood Count later in pregnancy.

Ultrasound scans can be performed to:
* date/confirm pregnancy
* Check physical structure of baby
* Nuchal fold – checking for any anomalies in structure of baby
* Assess fetal wellbeing, growth, liquor volume

Many areas are now offering a combined early pregnancy scan and nuchal fold scan – this may be combined with a biochemistry blood test to assess your risk of having a baby affected by Down’s or other Syndromes – in this case the serum screening at 16 weeks in not needed.

It is important to remember that all these tests are OPTIONAL – you can have any, all or none of the above tests after discussing the options with your midwife.

Please do feel free to email me if you have any specific questions:

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