The Healthcare Commission has found 61% of ultrasound scans carried out by NHS trusts fail to properly check for abnormalities in unborn children.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends 11 checks are carried out during ultrasounds, but the study found these are not always completed.
NICE also increased the quality of Down’s syndrome screening last April, but only 11% of trusts said they are meeting these standards for all women they see.
In total, the study found 40% of maternity services in England are performing poorly or fairly.
Thirty-one trusts were ranked in the “least well performing” category, with 32 “fair performing”.
Some 38 are in the “best performing” bracket, while 47 were given the slightly lesser score of “better performing”.
But the commission said some trusts were unable to supply the complete information needed, and this may have affected the results.
Patrick O’Brien, who works at University College London Hospital, and is a spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “There’s no doubt that this document is going to have to be examined in great detail because there’s some data there that does not add up to our everyday experience.”
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