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How to help women with learning disabilities access antenatal and newborn screening

A close-up of a pregnant woman having an ultrasound scan.
A pregnant woman having an ultrasound scan

We’ve published new guidance for screening professionals to support women with learning disabilities and their partners to access and understand antenatal and newborn (ANNB) screening.

Antenatal and newborn screening: supporting women with learning disabilities was developed with input from health professionals and academics with expertise in learning disabilities and informed choice.

Discussing aspects of ANNB screening with women or parents with learning disabilities can be challenging for health professionals who do not do this regularly. The guidance contains information and resources to help health professionals have conversations in an appropriate and sensitive way.

What you can do

Screening providers can offer support before and during the screening appointment. For example, before the appointment you can:

  • discuss any adjustments an individual might need or communication needs they might have
  • show or explain to the woman what will happen during the appointment
  • give the woman the chance to meet the members of the healthcare team most likely to provide care

Some of the things you can do during the appointment include:

The guidance also includes information about making a best interest decision, if a woman or parents are unable to make their own decision about ANNB screening.

PHE Screening blog

The PHE Screening blog provides up to date news from all NHS screening programmes. You can register to receive updates direct to your inbox, so there’s no need to keep checking for new blogs. If you have any questions about this blog article, or about population screening in England, please contact the PHE screening helpdesk.

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