Antenatal screening

Homerton offers all expectant women tests, to screen you and your baby for certain conditions that may affect either you or your baby, or both.

Screening information
All tests are free, and it is your choice if you want to be tested. Either your GP or your midwife will give you an NHS information booklet called ‘Screening tests for you and your baby’ during your first appointment, which will help you decide.

You can also download this booklet here which includes a link to translations into 17 languages. Your midwife or GP will explain each test to you and will be able to answer any questions you may have. Your midwife will ask you to sign a consent form if you wish to be tested.
For more information about antenatal screening, click here.

What tests do we offer at Homerton?

Blood tests
At Homerton, at your booking appointment (usually when you are 10-12 weeks pregnant) we can take a blood sample to check the following:

  • iron levels
  • blood group and rhesus factor
  • haemoglobinopathies (e.g. sickle cell trait, thalassaemia trait)
  • raised blood sugar 
  • HIV infection 
  • syphilis infection
  • hepatitis B infection
  • rubella immunity

At this appointment you will also be asked for a urine sample which will be checked for protein and tested for infection.

Normally another blood sample will be taken at both your 26-week and 34-week antenatal appointments, these tests will check:

  • iron levels
  • blood group and rhesus factor
  • blood sugar levels

Test results will normally be given to you during your next antenatal visit; your midwife can answer any questions you may have at this point.

Ultrasound scans
At Homerton we offer two ultrasound scans as standard:

Booking/dating scan (between 11-14 weeks) - At this scan, we will measure the baby’s size and based on this we will estimate the date your baby is due to be born (estimated date of delivery or EDD). The scan will also check the baby’s well-being and whether you are carrying more than one baby

Testing for Down’s syndrome – combined test 
At Homerton we also offer the combined test (a combination of ultrasound scan and a blood test), to determine your baby’s chance of having a chromosomal abnormality such as Down’s, Edwards or Patau’s syndrome. At your booking scan, we can measure the amount of fluid behind your baby’s neck (the nuchal translucency) which can be an indicator of the chance that your baby has a chromosomal abnormality. We also take a blood sample to test for certain hormones or proteins in your circulation which can indicate an increased risk of a chromosomal abnormality.
The combined test will not tell you for certain if your baby has a chromosomal abnormality or not but gives an indication of the chance or probability. If your chance is higher than 1 in 150, you will be offered further tests that can give a definite diagnosis. If you are concerned about the result of your combined test you can discuss this with your midwife or GP, who may refer you to the fetal medicine department for further help.
If it was not possible to obtain a nuchal translucency measurement, or you're more than 14 weeks into your pregnancy, you'll be offered a test called the quadruple screening test between 14 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. This only screens for Down's syndrome and is not quite as accurate as the combined test

Anomaly scan (between 20-22 weeks)
At this scan we will check the baby for any abnormalities or health problems, and we will also check the position of the placenta. If the placenta is low (as happens in about 10% of pregnancies) a repeat scan will be arranged at 32-36 weeks. If there are any other concerns, you will be referred to see one of our obstetricians.

It may be possible to see the gender of your baby at this scan, although we can’t guarantee the correct diagnosis of any baby’s gender. Please tell the ultrasonographer at the start of your appointment if you’d like to know your baby’s gender.

Additional support for women with long-term conditions
We have several specialist midwives who provide care and support for women with specific problems during their pregnancy.

HIV specialist midwife
Our HIV specialist midwife provides care for all HIV positive pregnant women and their families booked at Homerton. The HIV specialist midwife provides counselling and plans care to promote health and well-being, and to prevent HIV transmission to affected babies.

HIV specialist midwife 
tel: 020 8510 7009

Haemoglobinopathies specialist midwife (sickle cell/thalassaemia)
As part of the national screening programme, all pregnant women are screened for haemoglobinopathy. Our haemoglobinopathy specialist midwife can offer partner testing and prenatal screening as necessary to women with carrier status and counseling to those identified with major haemoglobinopathy.

The service aims to give couples who are at risk the opportunity to make timely informed choices. Women with major haemoglobinopathy such as sickle cell disease are given joint care by the haematologist obstetrician and specialist midwife.

Haemoglobinopathies specialist midwife 
tel: 020 8510 7258