Differences Between NHS And Private Baby Scans

There are various differences between NHS and private baby scans: the main differences are the types of tests that are available, the frequency of testing, the cost of treatment and the location of the tests.

Types of tests

Private clinics offer a wider range of tests than NHS antenatal facilities and some tests that you can get privately are not available on the NHS. Typically, on the NHS, a woman will be invited to have two scans, one to ascertain the due date (usually at around 10-12 weeks) and one at around 20 weeks to check the baby’s growth and identify potential anomalies (known as the mid-pregnancy or anomaly scan). If there are difficulties with the pregnancy or issues are identified on either of the scans, further testing and additional scans will be arranged. At a private clinic, there are many different types of scan available and you can book scans on a more frequent basis.

Types of scan that are available at a private clinic include:

  • Early pregnancy scan (usually available from 6 weeks)
  • Dating scan (from 10 weeks onwards)
  • NT (nuchal translucency) (at 14 weeks)
  • 3D ultrasound scans
  • 4D scan
  • Detailed scans between 18 and 22 weeks
  • Scans to determine the sex of the baby
  • NIPT (non-invasive pre-natal testing) to check for risk of Down’s Syndrome, Edwards’ Syndrome and Patau’s Syndrome;
  • Combined test: this is used to determine the risk of Down’s Syndrome, Edwards’ Syndrome and Patau’s Syndrome; the NHS test only indicates the risk of Down’s Syndrome
  • General growth scan (available in the third trimester to give a general idea of how the baby is progressing in the latter stages of the pregnancy)
  • Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) for those at high risk of complications during pregnancy; this is available for those who do not wish to wait until 16 weeks to undergo amniocentesis

Frequency of Baby Scans

Generally speaking, unless there are potential issues with the pregnancy or the development of the foetus, expectant mothers only undergo scans twice during their pregnancy on the NHS. In cases where there are complications or the pregnancy is deemed high risk, additional scans may be made available, but it is not usually possible to organise additional scans if the baby is perfectly healthy and the pregnancy is progressing normally. With private pregnancy scans, it is possible to organise scans as and when you wish; you may wish to have a scan earlier than the dating scan for peace of mind or one after the mid-pregnancy scan and this is perfectly possible if you choose to book at a private clinic.

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