Antenatal and Newborn Screening

Picture of a corridor in a hospital settingPublic health screening leaflets for parents

Screening in pregnancy

As part of your antenatal care, you will be offered various tests to check on the health of your developing baby and for conditions that may affect you or your baby. It is important you book for antenatal care as early as possible in your pregnancy. This will help you get these tests at the appropriate time, and benefit from other care for you and your baby.

Screening tests are used to find people at higher chance of a health problem. This means they can get earlier, potentially more effective treatment, or make informed decisions about their health. It can be helpful to imagine screening like putting people through a sieve. Most people pass straight through but a small number get caught in the sieve. The people caught in the sieve are those considered to have a higher chance of having the health problem being screened for.

Screening tests are not perfect. Some people will be told that they or their baby have a high chance of having a health problem when in fact they do not have the problem. Also, a few people will be told that they or their baby have a low chance of having a health problem when in fact they do have the problem.

Screening for your baby

Your baby will be offered some screening tests in their first 6-8 weeks. Most babies are healthy and will not have any of the conditions the screening tests are looking for. However, for the babies who have a health problem the benefits of screening can be enormous. Early treatment can improve their health and prevent severe disability or even death. The screening tests are quick and simple and will not harm your baby in any way. It is recommended that your baby has the screening tests, but you can decline them if you wish.

Screening is always a choice and you should be able to access the information you need to help you make a decision about the offer of screening.

Please click the links below to help you understand the screening tests available for you and your baby. The information is also available in other languages.

BCG vaccination

We offer BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin) vaccination to protect your baby against tuberculosis (TB). If your baby is eligible you will be given an appointment at your discharge from hospital or if you had your baby at home your midwife will arrange an appointment for your baby. At the moment BCG clinics run on Wednesdays and Saturdays at Watford Hospital. For more information about BCG vaccination please click on the link below:

The leaflet also available in other languages.

*Please note from September 2021 the way BCG will be delivered will change. The UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) has recommended an evaluative pilot for 2 years to screen babies for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) and this test will be added to the existing newborn blood spot screening programme. It is more complicated to treat SCID if a baby has had a BCG vaccination, therefore from September 2021 all babies eligible for BCG will be given the vaccine once they have reached 28 days old or they have a negative SCID result. Exceptions will be given to babies who are born in another area which is not part of the evaluative pilot who move into our area. For more information please speak to your GP or midwife.

How to get help

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