At booking, your community midwife will complete a family origin questionnaire with you.

This is used by the laboratory to decide if your blood requires screening for sickle cell and thalassaemia.

These are inherited variations in blood that are passed on through families.

They can be passed on without causing any clinical symptoms, but if both parents 'carry' these variations, it could in rare cases cause the couple's baby to suffer from mild to sometimes severe anaemia or a condition where the red blood cells change shape under certain conditions and cause severe pain and other medical complications.

These variations are most common where families have originated (no matter how many generations ago) from:

  • Africa
  • The Caribbean
  • Asia
  • The Middle East
  • Southern Europe
  • Mediterranean
  • Some other countries

They are not diseases, but variations in our red blood cells that help us adapt to living in different countries.

If you have any family members (for example grandparents or great grandparents) from another country - even if you are white British - please ensure your community midwife is aware of this so that your blood can be tested appropriately.