Screening tests during pregnancy

3D and 4D ultrasound scans

The standard common obstetric diagnostic scans are two dimensional (2D). However, with the latest 3D/4D ultrasound technology, mothers are able to see their baby properly for the first time.

While 3D scans reveal still images of the baby in three dimensions, 4D scans (with time as the fourth element) gather 3D images of the baby continuously and transform it into a moving image – just like a movie. For these reasons, ultrasound scans has been shown to improve fetal-maternal bonding.

From a medical viewpoint, these scans can be used to examine the baby’s heart and other internal organs. It can also give additional information about a known abnormality such as a cleft lip, which enables the doctor to prescribe a suitable treatment plan after birth.

Screening for Group B Streptococcus (GBS)

Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a common strain of bacteria that exists in the intestinal tracts. Although GBS is usually harmless in adults, it may cause serious infection and stillbirth in growing fetuses. The bacteria may harbour in the vagina and be passed on to the baby during labour and delivery. To this end, GBS is life-threatening and usually affects the baby in the first 24 hours and up to a week after birth.

Screening for GBS will reduce the chances of the baby getting infected, once the mother receives medical treatment such as oral antibiotics.

Cardiotocograph (CTG)

A routine procedure during labour, the cardiotocograph (CTG) machine is used to measure and monitor the baby’s heartbeat. The machine also helps to monitor the mother’s contractions in the womb (uterus).

CTGs are highly sensitive but have low levels of specificity. This means that they are very competent at detecting if the baby is well but may not be accurate in identifying if the baby is in distress. However this test is necessary to ensure that the baby’s heartbeat is within the “normal” range.