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Prenatal Screening

Prenatal screening consists of blood tests and ultrasound. 
Blood tests

Prenatal screening consists of one or more blood tests, which are ordered by your health care provider and can be done at any hospital or laboratory.  

Prenatal screening tells you the chance of your baby having a chromosome abnormality like Down Syndrome (trisomy 21), trisomy 18 or an open neural tube defect. It is offered free of charge as a choice to all pregnant persons in BC. If a risk is identified, you will be offered a prenatal diagnostic procedure. 

For more information, families can visit the BC Prenatal Genetic Screening Program and contact them directly about blood tests.

Once prenatal screening is complete, some individuals may be offered prenatal diagnostic procedures such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling.  

Ultrasound is a commonly used procedure that uses sound waves to produce images. These sound waves pass through the pregnant person's abdomen and reflect off of those  and the fetal structures to form a picture on the monitor. Although ultrasound is a reliable and safe way to know about the growth and development of your baby and the well-being of your pregnancy, it may not always be able to provide complete information due to a number of factors. In other words, it is possible that an existing abnormality may not be detected by ultrasound.

Ultrasound is used to confirm your pregnancy and due date and to evaluate the development and general well-being of your baby.

Sometimes a special nuchal translucency (NT) ultrasound may be done in addition to, or instead of, the blood tests.  

Ultrasound during pregnancy may be used for the following reasons:

  • Early in pregnancy to confirm a heartbeat, identify twins or triplets, or help predict the due date
  • Nuchal Translucency (NT) ultrasound for prenatal genetic screening
  • Detailed ultrasound after 18 weeks, to see if baby is growing and developing as it should
  • To help make a diagnosis when a fetal abnormality is found and for prenatal genetic screening
  • To locate the fetus and placenta during amniocentesis, which increases the safety of the procedure
  • Along with fetal monitoring, when a pregnancy has gone beyong the due date, to check on the well-being of the fetus and to help with decisions about induction of labour

Visit the Prenatal Genetic Screening Program to learn more about prenatal ultrasound.


The Ultrasound Department is open Monday - Friday with the exception of Statutory Holidays.

Please bring your BC Care Card and Photo ID to your appointment.

We are a scent-free clinic , please do not use scented products such as cologne/perfume, lotions, hair products when you come to the clinic in order to protect those patients/staff who are sensitive to these.

More information about your appointment

You may meet the following Health Care Professionals during your Ultrasound appointment:

  • Registration & Scheduling Clerk
  • Sonographer (specially trained Imaging Technologist)
  • Perinatologist (Specialist in Maternal-Fetal Medicine)
  • Radiologist (Specialist in Diagnostice Imaging)
  • Research Staff (approved by WHRI and/or CFRI)
  • Clinical Students (Clerks, Sonographers, Doctors)

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BC Women's is a "teaching hospital"  and we are involved in providing clinical education and experience for students in the health profession.

Many of our clinicians are actively involved in research that helps us provide the best possible care for you and your loved ones.

SOURCE: Prenatal Screening ( )
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