Procedures and practices

The Ministry of Health recommends all pregnant women are offered antenatal screening for Down syndrome and other conditions in either the first or second trimester of pregnancy.

The exception is women who have:

  • been pregnant with or had a child with a significant physical or learning disability
  • a family history of a genetic condition.

These women should be offered a referral for a discussion with a specialist obstetrician or geneticist prior to being offered screening.

The maternity provider referring the woman for screening must:

  • provide written and verbal information about screening to the woman, and support her to obtain further information if appropriate
  • discuss antenatal screening for Down syndrome and other conditions as early as possible in the pregnancy, to allow women the opportunity to consider participation in screening, ask questions, and seek further information
  • confirm and document informed consent (which may be verbal) prior to ordering screening
  • agree how results will be communicated to the woman and by whom.

Nuchal Translucency Scan

As specified in the Primary Maternity Services Notice 2007, the NT scan must only be undertaken by accredited practitioners.

Ordering First Trimester Combined Screening and Second Trimester Maternal Serum Screening

Laboratory forms have been sent to all maternity care providers. Additional forms are available from:

Auckland City Hospital
Phone 0800 LAB PLUS (0800 522 7587)
Fax 09 307 4970


Canterbury Health Laboratories
Christchurch Hospital
Phone 0800 THE LAB (0800 843 522)
Fax 03 364 0750

Antenatal Screening for Down syndrome and other conditions: referral to Genetic Services

The referral pathway has been developed as part of the quality improvements for antenatal screening for Down syndrome and other conditions. When there is an increased risk or chance result the lead maternity carer (LMC) may need to offer further information and advice to assist a woman to make an informed decision about what to do next and this may include a referral to Genetic Services.

Genetic services can provide information and support for families with, or at risk of, a genetic disorder. Referrals to Genetic Services must come from the LMC in the first instance. Please use the new Genetic Services Referral form available on this page.

Genetic Services are physically located in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. Telephone or in-person consultations will be negotiated based on the woman’s location and circumstances.

Page last updated: 02 December 2014