In some cases, a learning disability may develop before birth. This could be due to:
- the baby suffering damage to the brain or spinal cord
- the mother having an accident or illness during pregnancy
- a genetic problem developing during pregnancy
As well as regular antenatal checkups and ultrasounds, some women will be offered other tests during their pregnancy if there are concerns about their baby's development.
During my pregnancy I was offered a lot of support and advice, and my GPs explained the tests and the risk very carefully.
Amniocentesis is a test that takes place during pregnancy to check on a baby's progress, and to see whether there is a chance of developing one of a number of genetic conditions. The test is usually recommended for women over 35 who are at an increased risk during pregnancy because of their age. It may also be recommended for women who have already had a child with a disability, or who have a family history that indicates a problem is more likely to occur.
Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)
CVS is another diagnostic test which can detect certain genetic disorders. It is an alternative to amniocentesis and can be carried out at an earlier stage of pregnancy.
All tests carried out during pregnancy have risks, so it is important to consult carefully with your doctor when deciding whether or not to go ahead. Not all women will decide to have antenatal testing. If tests are taken and a problem is discovered, there may be the possibility of early treatment while the baby is still in the womb. If the problem is serious, parents will then have the choice whether to continue with the pregnancy or to have a termination.