Since 1 September 2021, pregnant women in the Netherlands can have an early ultrasound scan to detect physical abnormalities in their unborn child: the 13-week scan.

The 13-week scan is offered in addition to the 20-week scan which was already available. The new scan allows for the early screening for (severe) physical abnormalities in unborn children. 

Public communication

In August, obstetric care providers throughout the Netherlands began informing pregnant women and their partners about the 13-week scan. Specially trained sonographers perform the ultrasound.

Scientific study

The 13-week scan is only available to pregnant women aged 16 and over participating in the scientific IMITAS study. The University Medical Center Utrecht (UMC Utrecht) and Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) are responsible for the study (IMITAS). ZonMw subsidises the study. The IMITAS study will investigate the advantages and disadvantages of the 13-week scan and how pregnant women, their partners and healthcare professionals experience this scan. The results are expected in 2024. Once they are known, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport will decide whether the 13-week scan will be permanently implemented in the Netherlands.

Two years of close cooperation

RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment has been preparing for the introduction of this ultrasound scan for the past two years. There has been close cooperation with the Regional Centres for Prenatal Screening, the professional groups involved, parent and patient organisations, various training institutes and the IMITAS researchers. 

More information

For more information, please visit www.pns.nl, the website on pre-and neonatal screenings.