Antenatal screening

Antenatal screening is a way of assessing the chance of the baby having Down syndrome, Edwards syndrome, Patau syndrome or other rare genetic conditions.

This screening is optional. It offers pregnant people and their family/whānau information and choice in the care and management of their pregnancy and birth.

Antenatal screening for Down syndrome and other conditions has been available to pregnant people in Aoteaora New Zealand since 1968. In 2007, the government agreed to implement quality improvements to ensure consistency with international best practice at the time. The improvements were introduced in 2010 and included incorporating maternal serum screening with ultrasound and providing practitioner guidelines and consumer resources. Since 2010, further quality improvements to this screening have been considered and developed on an ongoing basis.

The objective of the quality improvements initiative is:

  • to improve the quality and safety of screening information and services for pregnant people in Aotearoa New Zealand
  • to ensure that those people who choose to have screening are able to access a service which is comparable with those available internationally
  • to ensure that all pregnant people and their family/whānu are supported in their decision whether or not they choose to have screening.

About screening - Discussion aid for health practitioners

This resource is designed as a support for health practitioners to help pregnant people make informed decisions about screening for themselves and their babies. While it can be used for all pregnant people, it has been designed to enhance discussions about screening where there are communication difficulties. This may include pregnant people who are deaf, have low literacy levels, have learning disabilities, are migrants/former refugees.

About Screening - Discussion Aid for Health Practitioners (PDF, 2MB)