During pregnancy, you can have screeningtests to find out whether your unborn baby has a disorder or a physical abnormality. This is called prenatal screening. There are two types of screening tests:
- Screening for Down syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome and Patau's syndrome: the NIPT.
- Screening for physical abnormalities: the 13-week scan and the 20-week scan.
It is entirely up to you to decide if you want to have these screening tests.
Screening for Down’s, Edwards’ and Patau’s syndromes
If you decide to have your child tested for Down’s, Edwards’ and Patau’s syndromes, you can choose to have the NIPT (non-invasive prenatal testing). The NIPT is a screening test in which a blood sample from a pregnant woman is tested. The blood sample is tested in a laboratory. If this screening test shows that the baby may have Down syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome or Patau’s syndrome, follow-up diagnostic testing is needed, just to be sure. You can have a NIPT from week 11 of your pregnancy.
Screening for physical abnormalities
The 13-week scan and the 20-week scan are medical examinations. Another name for it is the structural ultrasound scan. The person who performs the screening test is called a sonographer. At both scans a sonographer will use an ultrasound machine to examine the baby for any physical abnormalities.
The sonographer will also check the amniotic fluid and the growth of the baby. The sonographer is required to inform you of all the findings. This means you cannot have a partial scan. There is no risk to either the mother or the baby from a screening test.
What are physical abnormalities?
A physical abnormality means that part of the baby’s body looks different from what is expected. Examples of physical abnormalities are spina bifida (an open spine), an open skull, hydrocephalus, heart defects, a hole in the diaphragm, a hole in the abdomen, structural abnormalities of the kidneys, and structural abnormalities of the bones.
When is the 13-week scan?
You can have the 13-week scan from 12+3 up to 14+3 weeks of pregnancy. This means from twelve weeks and three days up to and including fourteen weeks and three days. In the Netherlands, you can only opt to have the 13-week scan if you are participating in the scientific IMITAS study. This study is investigating the advantages and disadvantages of the 13-week scan.
When is the 20-week scan?
You can have the 20-week scan from week 18 to week 21 of your pregnancy. This means up to 21 weeks and 0 days of your pregnancy. The best time to have the scan is in week 19 of your pregnancy. That is 19 weeks and 0 days to 19 weeks and 6 days of your pregnancy.
An in-depth conversation about whether or not to have screening: a counselling session
Did you mention during your first visit to your obstetric care provider that you would like to know more about the screening tests for physical abnormalities? If so, you will have an in-depth conversation about this. Also known as counselling. The person you have the discussion with is called a counsellor. You will also be able to ask questions.
It’s your decision
After the counselling session, it’s entirely your choice to decide whether or not you want to have the scan for physical abnormalities. Have you decided that you want to have a scan for physical abnormalities? Then you can make arrangements for this immediately.
More information about the screening tests can be found in the brochures.
You can download the brochures in five languages:
- Dutch (Nederlands)
- Polish (Polskie)
- Turkish (Türk)
- Arabic (عربى)