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Screening for infectious disease during pregnancy

Your blood sample will be tested for a number of infectious diseases. These include:

Immunity to rubella (German measles)

All pregnant women will have a test for immunity to rubella (German measles). Rubella in early pregnancy can be dangerous for your baby.

Most women are immune to rubella, usually from childhood vaccinations. If you have low immunity, you will be offered a vaccination after your baby is born.

Immunity to varicella zoster (chickenpox)

Many hospitals test all pregnant women for immunity to chickenpox. If you are not immune, it could be dangerous for your baby unless you get treatment.

If you are in contact with chickenpox and are not sure if you are immune, contact your GP or midwife straight away. They will be able to check this for you.

Syphilis

Syphilis if it is not treated can cause miscarriage and stillbirth. You will have a test for syphilis during your pregnancy. If you test positive, you can get treatment.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a virus that can cause serious liver disease. If you have hepatitis B, there is a chance your baby could become infected.

Vaccinating your baby at birth will reduce this risk. An injection of antibodies is sometimes given to the baby to further reduce their risk.

All pregnant women get a hepatitis B test. This is so that your baby can get treatment straight away after birth if needed.

Hepatitis C

Like hepatitis B, hepatitis C is a virus that can also cause serious liver disease. This virus can pass to your baby. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent this.

Very effective treatments for the virus are available. If you test positive for hepatitis C you can have your baby tested soon after birth.

HIV

If you have HIV, special arrangements will be made for the birth of your baby. This is to reduce the risk of infection to your baby.

All pregnant women can get tested for HIV. This is to protect your baby. If you have HIV and don't get treatment, there is a one in four chance that your baby could become infected. If you have HIV, getting treatment will reduce this risk for your baby.

Your baby will get a HIV test at birth and at intervals for up to two years. You will be told not to breastfeed. This is because you can pass on HIV through your breast milk.

You will get a referral to a specialist clinic where you will meet an expert healthcare team. They will support you through your diagnosis and treatment.

page last reviewed: 26/03/2018
next review due: 26/03/2021