As the mother, it is your decision whether you want these tests done or not. If you want an ultrasound examination between the 11th to the 14th week of your pregnancy, contact a midwifery centre (barnmorskemottagning) as soon as you know you are pregnant.
All testing or examinations that you are offered are free of charge.
Why should I be examined?
You will learn more if prenatal testing of your baby is done. Most often, everything is fine, but sometimes a baby can have an illness, a congenital disorder or a chromosomal abnormality.
A chromosomal abnormality is a type of change in your baby’s DNA. Chromosomal abnormalities can, among other things, affect the development and functioning of your baby’s organs. For example, chromosomal abnormalities often affect how the brain functions.
Certain chromosomal abnormalities can be serious, while others are hardly noticeable. Prenatal diagnosis can tell you whether your baby has a chromosomal abnormality, and if so, indicate what kind of abnormality it is.
One common chromosomal abnormality is Down syndrome.
A prenatal diagnosis does not reveal everything
A prenatal diagnosis does not reveal every illness, congenital disorder or chromosomal abnormality. Sometimes, these don’t show up until a later stage of pregnancy, at birth or even later in life.
Do you have a relative with a hereditary illness or a chromosomal abnormality? If so, tell your midwife or doctor about it.
How the tests are performed
Contact a midwifery centre (barnmorskemottagning) if you want to be examined. You are the person who decides which of the tests you are offered will be performed.
You are always entitled to two ultrasound examinations during your pregnancy. You can first be examined between the 11th to the 14th week of your pregnancy, and then another time between the 18th and 20th week of your pregnancy. By the second examination, your baby will have grown and it will therefore be easier to see certain illnesses, congenital disorders or chromosomal abnormalities.
This is how an ultrasound examination works:
- You will be examined on the outside of your abdomen and will be able to see moving pictures of your baby on a screen.
- The first time you’re examined, the midwife or doctor will tell you how long you have been pregnant, and when you will give birth. The second time, you’ll find out how much your baby has grown.
- You’ll also find out how many babies you’re carrying.
- The midwife or doctor will check whether your baby may have an illness, congenital disorder or a chromosomal abnormality.
- The midwife or doctor will check the location of the placenta in your uterus.
The combined ultrasound and blood test (KUB)
The KUB examination is a combination of an ultrasound examination and a blood test, and is performed between the 11th and 14th week of your pregnancy. This examination can show that probability of your baby having one of the more common chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome.
If you choose to have a KUB examination done, you will need to take a blood test no later than one week between your ultrasound examination. During the ultrasound examination, the midwife will measure a type of fluid at the back of your baby’s neck. You will then be told how probable it is that your baby has a chromosomal abnormality. This probability depends on several factors, such as the results of the blood test, the amount of fluid in your baby’s neck, how much you weigh and how old you are.
The following will happen after the KUB examination:
- Most often, the probability of a chromosomal abnormality is slight, and all the results are normal. In that case, you will not be offered any further examinations.
- If there is a somewhat greater risk of a chromosomal abnormality, you will be asked to do a blood test known as the NIPT.
- If there is a high risk of a chromosomal abnormality, you will be asked for a sample of amniotic fluid.
Blood test examination (NIPT)
The NIPT is a blood test for pregnant women. This blood test can show how probable it is that your baby has one of the more common chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome.
You can have this test done once you have had the KUB examination. At that time, you would be about in your 12th to 14th week of pregnancy. The results of the NIPT are more exact that those of the KUB. You should not have this test done if you have more than one baby in your uterus.
A midwife or a licenced practical nurse will take a sample of your blood from your one of your arms, and then send it for analysis. You will get the results after one to two weeks. You can have a sample of the amniotic fluid or the placenta taken if there is a high risk of chromosomal abnormalities.
Placental or amniotic fluid samples
Placental or amniotic fluid samples can show whether a baby has a chromosomal abnormality. You can have a placental sample taken from the 11th week of pregnancy, and an amniotic fluid sample from the 15th week.
The doctor inserts a thin needle through your abdomen and takes a sample from the placenta or the amniotic fluid The doctor then sends away the sample for analysis. You may get the results as early as in one week, but sometimes it can take several weeks.
Taking these samples can create a slightly increased risk of a miscarriage, but that risk is nevertheless a very small one.
What happens in the event an illness, congenital disorder or chromosomal abnormality is found?
You will need to talk to a doctor if an examination shows that your baby may have an illness, congenital disorder or a chromosomal abnormality. Sometimes, the doctor does not know whether the condition found is serious. In that case, the doctor will need to examine you further.
It can be emotionally trying if examinations show that your baby has an illness, congenital disorder or a chromosomal abnormality. In that case, talking with someone may help. You can speak with a counsellor, psychologist or doctor. You can also find out more about your baby’s illness, congenital disorder or chromosomal abnormality.
Some people choose to continue their pregnancy, whilst others choose to terminate it. There is no right or wrong choice here. The pregnant woman is always the one who makes the decision. You can choose to terminate the pregnancy up to the 18th week. After that, special rules apply.