Common Tests During Pregnancy 
You will find throughout this section some information on tests  routinely referred for in pregnancy.  Remember however there is no such thing as a ‘routine’ or ‘standard’ pregnancy.  Depending on your personal medical history, and how your pregnancy is progressing, you may be referred for other tests, procedures and ultrasounds.  These will be discussed with you as required.  

Early pregnancy blood and urine tests

There are a number of routine blood and urine tests performed in early pregnancy, usually requested by your GP upon confirming your pregnancy.  For the vast majority of women these tests will return a normal result,  and nothing else will need to be done.  Many of these tests will be repeated at 26-28 weeks of pregnancy as a part of monitoring the health of you and your baby through pregnancy.  Early pregnancy tests include:

Blood group and antibodies screen: It is important to know your blood group during pregnancy, as there can be an incompatibility between yours and baby’s blood. Everyone has this checked, even if it has been tested previously, as it is an important thing to be sure of.  Please see the anti-D paragraph below for more information.

Full Blood Count:  This looks at many components of your blood, and in pregnancy   the levels of Haemoglobin  (related to iron and being anaemic) and Platelets (related to blood clotting, which controls bleeding) are most important.

Iron Studies:  This test checks your iron level, which is called your Ferritin.  Low Ferritin levels can cause anaemia, and in rare cases some people have too much Ferritin.

Infections: There are a group of infections that are known to cause problems for unborn babies.  Most of these infections are uncommon in this day and age, however most of these are treatable.  We test every expecting mother for these potential  infections; Hepatitis B & C, HIV, Syphilis, Rubella (German Measles), Varicella (Chickenpox), Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea.

Thyroid Function:  Pregnancy can (temporarily) cause your thyroid function to be abnormal.  In most cases this is easily treated, and treatment is beneficial for mother and baby.  Some women also already have a thyroid disorder, and this needs to be monitored and managed in pregnancy. 

Vitamin D: It is very common for people to have vitamin D deficiency, as Australians have become very good at slip, slop and slapping!   Unborn babies need vitamin D to help develop strong healthy bones. 

Midsteam Urine (MSU):  Urine infections are very common in pregnancy, and  everyone has this test at their first appointment.  A MSU also checks for the presence of Bacteriuria, which has  been shown to cause low birth weight and preterm labour.  

First Trimester Screening (FTS)

This is the most common screening test offered.  It calculates your risk of having a baby with Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), Trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome) and Trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome).  This test has a detection rate of 90% for Down syndrome, and has a false positive rate of 5%.  It involves a blood test performed at 10 weeks gestation, and an ultrasound performed at 12 weeks gestation.  These two results are combined with your maternal age, and any relevant history, to give you an estimated risk of your baby being affected.

It is important to remember that a screening test is not diagnostic (a definite diagnosis).  If this result come back high risk you will be offered further testing, such as Non Invasive Prenatal Testing or amniocentesis.

Dr O’Neill recommends the ultrasound for this screening test is performed by a specialised obstetric ultrasound practice.  She commonly uses the following practices.

Park Ultrasound

Western Ultrasound

Women’s Imaging Service

 FTS image - 72dpi

Non Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) 

Non Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) is a new option for prenatal screening.  It is a blood test that analyses circulating cell-free DNA extracted from a maternal blood sample.  This screening test detects the risk of your baby having Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), 18 (Edwards syndrome) and 13 (Patau syndrome).  NIPT has a detection rate of >99%, false positive and false negative rates of <1%.

NIPT usually takes 5-8 business days and currently in Perth costs $425, with no Medicare rebate applicable.  It is an alternative to FTS although should still be done in conjunction with a 13 week scan. Dr O’Neill will ensure you have plenty of time to discuss the right test for your circumstances.

It is important to remember that a screening test is not diagnostic (a definite diagnosis).  If this result come back high risk you will be offered further testing, such as an amniocentesis, and genetic counselling as required.

For more information regarding NIPT please click on the following link: Harmony Prenatal Test

Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)

Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) is a diagnostic test performed at 11 to 14 weeks gestation.  It is performed by taking a sample of chorionic villus cells from the placenta with an ultrasound guided needle.  The risk of miscarriage is 1-2%.  That means there are between one and two chances of miscarriage for every 100 sampling tests performed.

This procedure is usually recommended if you have a high risk for chromosomal abnormalities on NIPT, or have a family history of a genetic condition.  It requires referral to an obstetric ultrasound specialist to be performed.

Amniocentesis (Amnio)

Amniocentesis (Amnio) is a diagnostic test performed at 15-18 weeks gestation.  It is performed by taking a small sample of amniotic fluid from around the baby with an ultrasound guided needle.  The risk of fetal loss is 0.5-1% as a result of amniocentesis under ultrasound guidance.  That means there are between one and two chances of miscarriage for every 200 Amnio performed.

This procedure is usually recommended if you have a high risk NIPT, or have a family history of a genetic condition.  It requires a referral to an obstetric ultrasound specialists to be performed.

Anatomy Ultrasound (18-20 weeks gestation)

The Anatomy Ultrasound, or sometimes called the Morphology Ultrasound, is performed between 18-20 weeks gestation.  Its major role is to detect structural abnormalities in the fetus, such as heart, limbs, abdomen, bones, brain, spine and kidney.  At that time the position of your placenta, amniotic fluid and baby’s growth will also be assessed.  This is also a good time to find out the sex of your baby if you wish.

Dr O’Neill recommends this ultrasound is performed by a specialised obstetric ultrasound practice.  She commonly uses the following practices.

Park Ultrasound

Western Ultrasound

Women’s Imaging Service

 Anatomy Scan-72dpi
Gestational Diabetes (26-28 weeks gestation)

Current Australian guidelines recommend all pregnant women have a Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) at 26-28 weeks gestation.  At that time you will have a recheck of your full blood count, antibodies screening, iron studies and thyroid function.  Your vitamin D will also be rechecked if this was low at the beginning of your pregnancy.  You may be referred for a Diabetes test earlier if you are at risk of early onset  Gestational Diabetes.

The GTT is a blood test that measures how quickly your body responds to a glucose load.  Women whose bodies are slower to respond to the glucose are considered to have Gestational Diabetes.

If you are found to have Gestational Diabetes you will be referred to a Gestational Diabetes Educator for advice.

If you would like more information regarding Gestational Diabetes please click the following link: Gestational Diabetes

Anti-D (Rhesus Negative Blood Group)

Women with a rhesus negative blood group required anti-D injections at 28 and 34 weeks gestation, and in any sensitising events such as bleeding, amniocentesis or abdominal trauma.   Anti-D is also required at delivery if the baby is rhesus positive.  This is to prevent the onset of Haemolytic Disease of the Newborn during a subsequent pregnancy.

If you would like more information regarding anti-D during pregnancy please click on the following link.: Anti-D During Pregnancy

Group B Streptococcus Screening

If you are planning to have a vaginal birth Dr O’Neill will advise you to have a vaginal swab at 35-37 weeks gestation.  This is to check if you have the bacteria Group B Streptococcus.  This is a normal bacteria that many women carry without being aware of it, however, in rare cases it can be harmful to the baby during vaginal delivery.

If you are known to have Group B Streptococcus you will be prescribed antibiotic treatment during labour.  If you have a history of Group B Streptococcus in a previous pregnancy Dr O’Neill will not retest you in your current pregnancy.  You will require antibiotics treatment in labour on the basis of this history.

If you would like some more information regarding Group B Streptococcus click on the following link: Group B Streptococcus

Vaccines During Pregnancy

Influenza (Flu)

Current Australian guidelines recommend all pregnant women receive the Influenza vaccine during Flu season (March-August). 

For more information on this please click on the following link: Influenza (Flu)

Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Current Australian guidelines recommend all pregnant women receive a Pertussis (Whooping Cough) vaccination.  This is optimal between 28-32 weeks gestation, but the vaccine can be given any time during the third trimester.

For more information on this please click on the following link: Pertussis (Whooping Cough)